Singapore and India are natural partners with shared values of democracy, pluralism and secularism, giving them convergent perspectives on many regional and international developments. This week, during Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong three-day state visit to India, the two countries pledged to broaden their scope of cooperation in political engagement, defence, trade, investment, education, arts and culture.
This week, both countries have also :
- Agreed to expedite the conclusion of the ongoing second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to facilitate trade in goods, services and investment;
- Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in vocational education and skills development;
- Sign a MoU to renew the bilateral arrangement between both the air forces on joint training and exercises.
PM Lee last visited India seven years ago, and the visit culminated in the signing of the CECA in June 2005, and the two leaders acknowledged that bilateral ties have grown since then. CECA was the first such agreement to be signed by India with any country; integrating agreements on trade, investment protection, education, intellectual property and science & technology. It also provided mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) that eliminate duplicate certification in sectors with mandatory technical requirements.
2ND REVIEW OF CECA
The implementation of CECA is periodically reviewed by the two governments and the second such review – launched in May 2010 – is underway. Some amendments that are discussed include mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and attracting investments in India from Singapore’s forte of urbanization and infrastructure such as airports, ports, water works, water and waste treatment.
MoU on EDUCATION
PM Lee and PM Manmohan Singh also discussed furthering mutual cooperation in vocational education and skills development, and signed a MoU to establish a world class post-secondary technical education institute in New Delhi. A joint-collaboration by Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education and the Delhi state government’s Department of Training and Technical Education, the institute will train up to 15,000 students in fields of electronics and finance.
MoU on DEFENSE
Meanwhile, in a bid to strengthen already strong defence ties between the two countries, an MoU to renew the bilateral arrangement between both the air forces on joint training and exercises, was also signed. The army bilateral agreement will be up for renewal in 2013, and the two leaders expressed hope to renew it as well.
Singapore is now India’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN, with bilateral trade reaching US$17.44 million in 2010-11. Singapore has also emerged as second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India amounting to US$15.67 billion (10% of total FDI inflow) between April 2000 and November, 2011. Additionally, the cumulative outward Indian FDI into Singapore was US$23.42 billion at the end of January 2012, making it the eighth largest foreign investor in Singapore.
“Singapore also has become a preferred center of company registration for Indian investors active in the Asia Pacific region. Due to its business-enabling environment, strong air connectivity, presence of a large Indian community, low Singapore corporate taxes, PIC Scheme, extensive network of tax treaties, absence of capital gains tax, among others, Singapore has emerged as a key logistic and financial hub for many Indian corporate houses,” concluded Mr. Satish Bakhda, Head of Rikvin’s Operations.