Singapore to host Asean Summit this week; Vietnam PM to make official visit

This file photo taken on April 25, 2013, shows flags of the states which are also Asean members in a conference room at the Prime Minister's Office Building Complex in Bandar Seri Begawan, where the 22nd Asean Summit was being held.
This file photo taken on April 25, 2013, shows flags of the states which are also Asean members in a conference room at the Prime Minister's Office Building Complex in Bandar Seri Begawan, where the 22nd Asean Summit was being held.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Regional leaders will gather in Singapore from Wednesday (April 25) till Saturday for the 32nd Asean Summit and related meetings, during which they will discuss the grouping's top priorities, programmes and challenges.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will chair the summit, which will be the first meeting of Asean's leaders in Singapore during its year of chairing the grouping.

One of the first to arrive will be Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who will be on an official visit to Singapore from Wednesday till Friday at the invitation of PM Lee.

His visit comes as Singapore and Vietnam mark 45 years of diplomatic ties, and five years since their ties were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2013.

At the summit, to be held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Asean's leaders will discuss the challenges and opportunities that the grouping faces.

This will be in line with the focus on strengthening Asean's resilience and innovation this year, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement on Tuesday.

As chairman, Singapore is keen to develop a network of smart cities across Asean and boost the region's cyber security.

During the summit, the leaders are expected to endorse and release statements outlining their vision to make Asean more resilient and innovative.

They are also likely to agree on details about the preliminary phase of the Asean smart cities network, and issue a statement on the network and on cyber-security cooperation.

The leaders will also discuss regional and international developments, said the PMO.

 

These will most likely include maritime cooperation and security in the South China Sea, the security situation on the Korean peninsula and the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The Straits Times understands that Malaysian PM Najib Razak will not attend the summit as it coincides with his country's election season, with Nomination Day on April 28.

Myanmar's state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will not make the trip either, with newly installed President Win Myint coming instead.

All the other Asean leaders are expected to be here.

In the run-up to the summit, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will head a meeting of ministers overseeing the Asean Political-Security Community.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang will also chair a meeting of Asean's economic ministers.

Official visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister

Economic cooperation will be high on the agenda of Vietnamese PM Phuc during his visit, which will be his first to Singapore as prime minister since he was elected in 2016.

While he is here, Singapore and Vietnam are set to ink a slew of deals in a range of fields, from fintech and banking supervision to renewable energy and trade standards.

Singapore was Vietnam's third-largest foreign investor last year, with a total of $43.2 billion worth of investment in more than 1,800 projects, including seven Vietnam-Singapore industrial parks.

Vietnam was Singapore's 12th-largest trading partner last year.

Trade between both countries hit $21.6 billion last year, 8.6 per cent more than the previous year.

Singapore's and Vietnam's leaders are also close. PM Lee visited Vietnam three times in the past five years, while Vietnam's top leaders made three trips to Singapore in the past two years.

Accompanying Mr Phuc will be Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, five other ministers, as well as government officials and a business delegation.

Mr Phuc will call on President Halimah Yacob and PM Lee, who will host him to an official dinner, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a separate statement on Tuesday.

He will also attend a business dialogue, visit the Government Technology Agency of Singapore and PSA Singapore, and have an orchid named in his honour at a ceremony at the Botanic Gardens.