Singapore, Romania reaffirm ties, discuss cooperation in areas like trade, cyber security

President Halimah Yacob (right) meets with Romania's President Klaus Iohannis at a state banquet, on March 10. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Romanian companies can use Singapore as a gateway to the South-east Asia market, which would help promote the countries’ economic relationship for the benefit of their people, President Halimah Yacob said on Friday.

During a speech at a state banquet she hosted for Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the Istana, Madam Halimah said the pair had earlier reaffirmed bilateral ties, which are buttressed by good cooperation at international forums and a shared commitment to free trade, multilateralism and a rules-based international order.

“For example, Romanian companies could use Singapore as a gateway to access the large and promising South-east Asia market, which has a relatively young population of over 650 million and a huge middle class that is growing rapidly.”

Madam Halimah noted that more than 150 Romanian officials had participated in Singapore Cooperation Programme courses over the years in areas such as civil aviation, public administration, and environment and urban development.

There are also about 70 Romanian companies in Singapore, with many using the Republic as a base for their regional operations.

“We are confident that this number will grow as we further expand trade and investments between Singapore and Romania,” she said.

She also expressed appreciation for Romania’s support for Singapore’s agreements with the European Union, namely the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, as well as its early ratification of the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement.

Mr Iohannis received a ceremonial welcome at the Istana on Friday, after which he called on Madam Halimah and met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Iohannis and Romanian First Lady Carmen Iohannis also had a new orchid hybrid, the Dendrobium Carmen Iohannis, named in their honour.

There is also potential for Singapore and Romania to foster closer ties among their people and explore greater bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as cyber security and education, Madam Halimah said.

Mr Iohannis likewise expressed a desire to enhance bilateral cooperation, such as in information technology and communications, cyber security, smart cities, start-ups, agriculture and food security, climate change, education and people-to-people contacts.

He noted that Romania has been one of the top EU countries providing telecom and IT services in Singapore for the past five years, and said: “We see it as a stepping stone to further expand our practical cooperation.”

In a Facebook post on Friday, Madam Halimah said that during her meeting with her Romanian counterpart, the pair discussed the evolving geopolitical landscape, trade and investment, renewable energy, and the need for international cooperation on global issues, such as climate change.

“We both agreed on the importance of strengthening our bilateral ties and exploring new areas of mutual interest in cyber security and digitalisation. These are areas where there is potential for our countries to deepen cooperation,” she wrote.

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and his wife Carmen with Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob at the state banquet. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

In a Facebook post, PM Lee wrote that the Romanian President’s visit reflects the warm and longstanding ties between the countries, and paves the way for closer relations going forward.

“We discussed ways to strengthen relations between our two countries.

“We also exchanged views on a variety of issues, including regional security and cooperation at multilateral fora,” he wrote.

“I look forward to working with Romania to uphold our shared commitment to peace and stability in our respective regions and beyond.”

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