Singapore to host ninth session of high-level bilateral dialogue with Russia

SINGAPORE - Singapore will be hosting the ninth session of the high level Russia-Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC9) on Wednesday (Sept 19).

This year, it will be co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov.

The IGC is an annual high-level bilateral dialogue aimed at strengthening broad-based cooperation between Russia and Singapore.

It has been key in expanding cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture, culture, education, governance, innovation and legal cooperation.

During the IGC, both co-chairs will meet to discuss issues both countries might face.

There will also be a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (Ace) from Singapore and the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF) from Russia.

This collaboration aims to strengthen the connection between Singapore and Russian start-up ecosystems and drive global innovation through joint initiatives. These initiatives can be structured market access programmes, knowledge programmes and workshops and access to in-market networks.

Ace is an organisation first launched in 2003 to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore.

Meanwhile, IIDF was established in 2013 at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a private-led venture capital fund to foster the development of the internet entrepreneurship ecosystem in Russia.

This year's IGC comes amid the 50th anniversary on June 1 of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Russia.

This milestone was commemorated with parallel photo exhibitions in Singapore and Moscow and a joint stamp unveiled in May.

The IGC with Russia was first established during a state visit to Singapore by then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in November 2009.

The inaugural meeting was held on Sept 27, 2010, and was co-chaired by then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and then deputy chairman of the Russian Government (DPM) Sergey Sobyanin.

In conjunction with IGC9, the two deputy prime ministers will also participate in a dialogue at the Russia Singapore Business Forum (RSBF) on Thursday.

The forum is a platform for fostering business networking, partnerships, and experience sharing.

Over 300 government and business leaders from Russia and Singapore are expected to attend the forum this year.

Russia was Singapore's 24th largest trading partner worldwide last year and bilateral trade stood at S$7.38 billion.

Both countries have also cooperated at multilateral forums, including Asean-related forums, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), the Arctic Council and the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem).

Last year, Singapore received 80,000 Russian visitors.

At this year's forum, both countries will examine Russian entrepreneurship, factors for successful cross-border collaborations, new shifts in the consumer retail landscape and Russia as a potential market for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Enterprise Singapore, which is the organiser of the forum, said there are close to 20 Singapore companies in Russia across the technology, consumer, infrastructure and trade sectors.

Accompanying Mr Tharman at the IGC are Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs; Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs; and Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.