Economic cooperation between Singapore and Poland received a boost yesterday with the signing of several new agreements.
It will be further bolstered when the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) goes into force, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said yesterday.
Speaking to 100 businessmen at the maiden Poland-Singapore Business Forum, Dr Tan said the trade deal, which is the first between the EU and a South-east Asian country, will "send a strong signal of the EU's commitment to engage Asia".
With EUSFTA, Polish companies will have greater access to Singapore and Asean markets, worth a total of $3.6 trillion.
They can, for instance, bid for more energy contracts, and Singapore will accept made-in-Poland goods based on EU standards, eliminating the need for the products to undergo extra testing, he added.
Dr Tan, the first Singapore head of state to visit Poland, said he looked forward to the early ratification of the trade pact, parts of which have to be approved by all the 38 national and regional authorities in the EU.
While investment levels remain modest, bilateral trade has more than doubled to $962 million from a decade ago, and there is opportunity for further growth for both nations, he added.
His Polish counterpart, Mr Andrezj Duda, said of Singapore: "Though a relatively small state, it is a giant - one of the largest financial markets in the world."
Noting that trade between the countries has "room for improvement", he urged companies to use the new Polish trade office in Singapore to get more information.
Earlier in the day, Dr Tan received a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace, where he also held a meeting with Mr Duda.
Yesterday was the second day of his state visit to Poland, during which he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument for soldiers who died fighting for Poland in various wars.
In their talks, the two presidents reaffirmed their nations' longstanding and excellent relations.
The issues they discussed ranged from developments in Singapore and Poland to the progress made in bilateral ties, including economic, science and technology, and cultural collaborations.
Both leaders also presided over the signing of three memorandums of understanding (MOUs). IE Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation each signed an MOU with the Polish Investment and Trade Agency to establish trade links and investment opportunities, especially in the auto and aerospace industries, wholesale trade of food and agricultural products, and transport and logistics sectors.
The third agreement was between Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research and its Polish counterpart. It will "facilitate the sharing of scientific expertise and knowledge, cross- fertilisation of ideas, as well as talent development in both countries", noted Dr Tan at a press conference with Mr Duda.
He urged Polish leaders, officials, businessmen, tourists and students to visit Singapore, as both leaders agreed there is scope to enhance people-to-people links.
Meanwhile, he invited President Duda to visit Singapore.
Dr Tan's day ended with an official dinner Mr Duda hosted for him at the Presidential Palace.
Today, the final day of his three-day visit, he will meet the heads of the upper and the lower chambers of Parliament, before leaving for a four-day state visit to the Czech Republic.