Singapore, Vietnam can deepen ties in innovation, energy connectivity, sustainability: Tan See Leng


Singapore companies have expanded their investments in Vietnam in diversified sectors over the years, says the minister, at the first overseas edition of the Singapore Regional Business Forum

[HANOI] Innovation, energy connectivity and sustainability are three areas in which Singapore and Vietnam can work together to seize opportunities of the next decade and further deepen bilateral cooperation, said Second Trade and Industry Minister Tan See Leng in Vietnam on Friday (Jul 7).

He made this point in a speech at the opening of the Singapore Regional Business Forum (SRBF), the flagship event of the Singapore Business Federation, which is being held overseas for the first time since its inception in 2015.

The minister told an audience of more than 500 business executives and government officials at the Melia Hanoi hotel that, when it comes to innovation, Singapore and Vietnam are among the top three startup ecosystems in South-east Asia today.

“With our common goal of driving further economic growth through technology and innovation, there is scope to tap each other’s innovation ecosystems for partners, funding and talent,” he said.

On energy connectivity, the minister noted that both countries share a common vision towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Last October, the two governments inked an agreement on energy cooperation to explore closer collaboration in areas such as renewable energy development, cross-border electricity trading, liquefied natural gas and electricity markets, low-carbon and energy-efficiency solutions.

Turning to his point about sustainability, Dr Tan said that carbon markets can play a critical role in supporting countries to decarbonise, particularly in the harder-to-abate sectors.

A deal signed by Singapore and Vietnam to collaborate on carbon credits puts the two countries in “excellent positions” to capture the opportunities generated by carbon markets.

“We look forward to jointly implementing carbon credit generating projects in the coming years. Our projects can help spur a more vibrant carbon market in the region,” he said.

Dr Tan, who arrived in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday for a three-day official visit, said that he had discussions with Vietnam’s Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung to expand the scope of the Singapore-Vietnam connectivity ministerial meeting to cover the “emerging topics” of innovation and the green and digital economies.

“As we seek out new opportunities in these emerging fields, we will continue to deepen our multi-faceted connectivity in trade and investment, finance, transport, tourism and education.”

In his remarks, he said the SRBF was taking place at a time when the global economic outlook remained uncertain and under pressure from challenges ranging from supply-chain disruptions and inflation to climate change.

“Globalisation, as we have known, is also changing, with an increasing trend towards protectionism. Businesses are also adapting and innovating in the face of new business needs, to not only be digitalised, but also sustainable.”

This year’s SRBF is being held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Vietnam, and the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership.

Bilateral trade reached S$31.3 billion in 2022, a 16.4 per cent increase from the previous year. Vietnam was also Singapore’s 11th-largest trading partner last year. On the investment front, Singapore was Vietnam’s second-largest foreign investor, with a cumulative investment of US$70.8 billion as at end-2022.

Beyond these statistics and figures, Dr Tan said in his address that Singapore companies have steadily expanded their investments in Vietnam, across the provinces and in diversified sectors. Many have found committed partners in Vietnam and are happy to continue to play a useful role in Vietnam’s economy, he said.

He lauded the achievements of the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), a joint venture between Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries and Vietnam’s Becamex.

Since the first park was set up in 1996, there are now 14 VSIPs across 10 provinces in Vietnam. Collectively, they have attracted US$18.4 billion in investment capital and created around 300,000 jobs.

Another example he cited was a partnership between Singapore’s YCH Group and Vietnam’s T&T Group to develop a smart logistics connectivity infrastructure project in Vinh Phuc province.

The Vietnam Superport, as it is called, will have a cargo capacity of 850,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units); it aims to transform cargo handling by air, sea, rail and road, and uplift the manufacturing supply chain in northern Vietnam.