US, Singapore to promote commercial partnerships and exchanges in four key areas

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong (right) and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo signing an MOU on Oct 8, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE & INDUSTRY/FACEBOOK

WASHINGTON - Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and the United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Friday (Oct 8) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that aims to strengthen collaboration in US-Singapore trade and investment.

The US-Singapore Partnership for Growth and Innovation will "establish a vehicle for deepening economic integration between the United States and South-east Asia, building on the already strong commercial ties between firms in the United States and Singapore", the two said in a joint statement.

"To this end, we will convene activities for government and private sector leaders to promote commercial partnerships and exchanges on policy developments, starting with four pillar areas: digital economy, energy and environmental technologies, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare."

The two governments are "committed to delivering commercially meaningful outcomes on priority topics such as e-commerce, cyber security, clean energy and climate change solutions, medical technologies, and advanced manufacturing technologies" they said.

The challenge of enhancing supply chain resilience will also figure in discussions, with other stakeholders and governments from South-east Asia invited where possible, they added.

Ms Raimondo said the partnership will "support economic recovery as we build back from the global pandemic and underscores the United States' deep-seated commitment to creating and maintaining meaningful partnerships with Singapore, South-east Asia, and the entire Indo-Pacific region".

The partnership is a milestone, with both countries committed to working closely for a stronger post-Covid-19 recovery, Mr Gan said.

Separately, earlier on Thursday, Mr Gan told an audience at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington that Singapore was working on establishing a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with the US and wants to conclude it before the end of the year.

Travellers from Singapore can fly freely to the US, but travel from the US to Singapore remains restricted.

Arrivals must undergo several polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19, and must serve a 10-day stay-home notice.

But Singapore is cautiously lifting restrictions.

VTLs with Brunei and Germany allow vaccinated travellers to visit Singapore on pre-designated vaccinated flights, but require PCR tests.

On Friday, Singapore's Ministry of Transport announced that Singapore and the Republic of Korea have also agreed to jointly launch a VTL starting from Nov 15.

"There's some pressure, from our own (US) government, to see Singapore ease traffic from America," US Chamber executive vice-president and head of international affairs Myron Brilliant told Mr Gan Kim Yong on Thursday.

Mr Gan said: "We are moving towards regular testing with self-test kits readily available."

He added: "Once you're tested negative, you can go about doing business and other activities quite freely. This allows us to protect our lives and at the same time, restore our activities. I think that this is going to be the key - both vaccines and testing. This will also be the key to travel arrangements."

The US was the eighth-largest market for visitor arrivals to Singapore in 2019, with 729,000 visitors, but just over 2,000 visited in the first eight months of 2021.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.