S’pore, UK to work together to build capacity in region

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (left) and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan signed an MOU on Sept 29, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SINGAPORE - Singapore and the United Kingdom will work together to promote capacity-building in South-east Asia and the region, under an agreement their foreign ministers signed on Thursday.

The memorandum of understanding on the Singapore-UK Third Country Training Programme was signed by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who was here on his first working visit since his appointment in September.

The MOU builds on both countries’ strengths in international development cooperation, including through the sharing of best practices in sustainable development, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Mr Cleverly also called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and met Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

PM Lee said he was pleased to welcome Mr Cleverly at the Istana, where they reaffirmed the longstanding ties between Singapore and the United Kingdom. 

“We have strong economic links through the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement,” said PM Lee in a Facebook post.

“We also have good people-to-people exchanges, with many Singaporeans living and studying in the United Kingdom,” he added.

Dr Balakrishnan also hosted Mr Cleverly to dinner. They also discussed ways to enhance cooperation in areas including the digital economy and clean energy, and exchanged views on global and regional developments, MFA said.

Dr Balakrishnan welcomed the UK’s interest to deepen its engagement of the region, including through Asean, MFA added.

Mr Cleverly is on a three-day trip to Asia, and arrived here after stops in Japan and South Korea.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (left) at a dinner hosted by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Sept 29, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

He also launched the new British International Investment Office here. It plans to invest in green infrastructure, support climate resilience and a green economic transition in the region.

He also spoke at the Milken Institute’s Asia Summit here, where he said the Indo-Pacific was a region that is critical to the UK economy, to its security and to its ambition to support open societies.

“We are well on our way to becoming the European partner with the broadest, most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

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