Singapore, May 31 (IANS) Stating that political relations between India and Singapore are among the warmest and closest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the two sides are building a relationship of our age.
Addressing a business and community event, Modi described the relationship between India and Singapore as “our heritage”.
Stating that this southeast Asian city state never fails to inspire, he said that it has shown that size can be no barrier to the scale of achievements.
“But, Singapore’s success also lies in the harmony of its multi-cultural society, in the celebration of its diversity, which under-lies a distinct and unique Singaporean identity,” he said.
Praising the role of the 800,000 people of Indian origin here, he said: “Here in Singapore, you represent the diversity of India..”
Modi also referred to the fact that Tamil is an official language in Singapore and said that children here can learn five different Indian languages in schools.
“On the foundations of this extraordinary heritage, the wealth of our human links and the strength of our shared values, India and Singapore are building a partnership of our age,” he said.
“It is a relationship that truly meets the test of strategic partnership.”
India and Singapore elevated their bilateral ties to that of a Strategic Partnership in 2015.
Modi said that when India opened up to the world and turned to the east, Singapore became a partner and a bridge between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc.
“Political relations between India and Singapore are among the warmest and closest,” he said.
“There are no contests or claims, no irritants or doubts.”
Stating that it is a natural partnership from a shared vision, he said defence relations between India and Singapore are also among the strongest.
“In international forums, we speak in one voice in the cause of a rules-based order, sovereign equality of all nations, and free and open pathways of commerce and engagement,” the Indian Prime Minister said.
“Economics is the heart-beat of the relationship.”
Stating that this partnership is at the front-line of India’s global engagement, Modi said Singapore is both a leading investment source and destination for India.
“Singapore was the first country with which we signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (in 2005),” he said
He said that nearly 250 flights in each direction every week connect Singapore to 16 Indian cities and added that it is set to grow.
“India is the third largest source of tourists in Singapore and its fastest growing. Our IT companies are helping Singapore stay smart and competitive.”
Modi said that in many areas of India’s development priorities like smart cities, urban solutions, financial sector, skills development, ports, logistics, aviation and industrial parks, Singapore is a key partner.
“As Singapore shapes a new future for itself, India emerges as the new global frontier of opportunities,” he said.
“Even in a year of deep structural reforms like the introduction of Goods and Services Tax, we remain the fastest growing major economy of the world.”
Stating that economic reforms are taking place in India at a speed and a scale not known so far, he said this has helped the country move up 42 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.
He also gave a review of the various development and financial initiatives of his government.
Stating that India will work for an open, stable and fair international trade regime, Modi said: “And, our engagement to our east will be among the strongest, and economics will remain an integral part of our Act East Policy.”
He reaffirmed that India will work Asean to reach an early conclusion to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc and the six states with which Asean has existing free trade agreements – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Modi arrived here earlier on Thursday on the third and final leg of his five-day tour of southeast Asia after making a brief stopover in Malaysia on his way from Indonesia.
Prior to attending the business and community event, he, accompanied by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, took a tour of the India-Singapore Enterprise and Innovation Exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre here.
The exhibition was organised by the Indian High Commission in Singapore in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation.
The business and community event saw the international launch of the RuPay, Bhim and UPI mobile apps. The signing of several memorandums of understanding between Indian and Singapore entities in areas of education and skill development, space, and food processing was also announced.
On Friday, Modi will hold a summit with Prime Minister Lee and deliver the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to do so in the Track I annual inter-governmental security forum.