Singapore and Germany will embark on new areas of cooperation including cyber security and financial technology, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (July 6) before a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Other areas in which the two countries could work together include industrial production in the age of digitalisation, research and development, sustainable energy supply, Smart Nation initiatives and sports.
Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA) and Germany’s Federal Foreign Office yesterday signed a joint declaration on cyber security cooperation, which covers key areas such as regular information exchanges, joint training and research, as well as sharing of best practices to promote innovation in cyber security.
Both parties also committed to promote “voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour in cyber space”, CSA said in a press release.
Mr Lee, who is on a working visit to Germany, and Mrs Merkel spoke to the media before a meeting over lunch.
Mr Lee said both countries enjoy a “close partnership” underpinned by broad and deep collaboration, and are “like-minded” in their strong commitment to an open international trading system, the rule of law and sustainable development.
He called Ms Merkel a “good friend” whose advice and insights he values.
Mr Lee last visited Germany in 2015, when Singapore and Berlin marked 50 years of diplomatic relations.
The Republic is Germany’s largest trading partner in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), and Berlin is Singapore’s largest trading partner in the European Union (EU).
Singapore companies are investing in Germany in areas such as aerospace and hospitality, while more than 1,600 German companies have a base in the Republic.
Germany’s major companies are also using Singapore as an innovation hub for advanced manufacturing and digitalisation.
Mr Lee said he appreciates Germany’s support for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and hopes it will come into force soon.
It would be a “pathfinder” for a free trade agreement between the EU and Asean, and help draw the two regions even closer together, he said.
The Republic is grateful to Germany for hosting training by the Singapore Armed Forces, he added.
Both countries are looking to enhance defence cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
During his visit, Mr Lee will attend the G20 summit, which takes place on Friday and Saturday in Hamburg and involves leaders of the EU and 19 of the world’s largest developing and developed economies.
Mrs Merkel said she was delighted to have Singapore as a guest for the summit. Adding that the Republic has been very successful in staying open to trade and facing new technological developments, she described bilateral ties as very close and friendly.
She also thanked Singapore for its part played in regional issues such as the South China Sea.
Mr Lee thanked Mrs Merkel for inviting Singapore to the G20 summit.
Citing climate change, terrorism, cyber security and income inequality, Mr Lee noted that there are “many urgent issues on the table” for the world leaders to discuss.
“There are many different perspectives and views on how to deal with these,” he said.
Singapore hopes to contribute its perspectives and ideas at the meeting, and to “work with Germany and other countries to push forward the G20 agenda”.
He added: “That way we hope we can promote stronger engagement between the G20 and the wider United Nations membership through the Global Governance Group, of which Singapore is a member.”
On the sidelines of the summit, Mr Lee will hold bilateral meetings with leaders such as United States President Donald Trump.
The meeting with Mr Trump will be their first face-to-face encounter, after two telephone conversations on Dec 2 last year and April 30.