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Goh Chok Tong
Singapore – India relations
On September 7, 2014, Goh Chok Tong, former Prime Minister and currently the Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) of Singapore, arrived on a five-day visit to India to further cement friendly ties between the India and Singapore. ESM is the post taken by a retired Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore. His visit was preceded by several high level officials visits between the two nations in 2014. In 2013, also ESM Goh Chok Tong visited New Delhi to attend the AECOM Global Advisory Board Meeting.
The motive of the latest visit is to bring warmth in the relations with newly form government in India. He stressed upon the need to build strong relationship between India and Singapore while encouraging the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to work towards developing India as a Global Manufacturer through a combination of skill development, standard setting and access to the global market.
In this context, he called upon India to engage more proactively with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) initiative. RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand).
ESM recognized the need of strong and prosperous India in order to have a peaceful and prosperous Asia. For that reason, he suggested that both sides should work for entering into a strategic economic partnership. On his part, Indian Prime Minister conveyed India's keen desire to partner with Singapore as it would be essential to enter into partnerships with the international community to access the necessary funding and expertise to materialize the projects like development of smart cities and urban centers, cleaning of rivers etc.
ESM Singapore also had a meeting with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu where latter shared his plans for a new capital city, which will be in the Vijayawada-Guntur region, and invited Singapore to share its experience and contribute to the development process. He also shared his vision for infrastructure development in Andhra Pradesh which included development in the areas of ports and airports, oil and gas, services, water, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and public infrastructure.
Earlier in August 2014, Indian External Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Singapore where she conveyed that Singapore could cooperate with India to develop a 'little Singapore' along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor under the new government's 100 smart cities project. On its part, Singapore also expressed keenness to cooperate with India in specific areas of its expertise like water management and urban rejuvenation.
Singapore enjoys excellent bilateral relations with India where the cooperation includes multiple areas. Political leaders and officials enjoy a strong rapport, and the frequent interaction through platforms such as the Joint Ministerial Committee, the India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue and the India-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship Group, allows them to exchange views on many issues of common concern.
Economically, our ties have grown considerably. Singapore is India's largest trading partner amongst the ASEAN countries and serves as India's gateway to ASEAN and East Asia. The latest visit is another step in improving the Indo-Singapore ties.