Thank you very much Prime Minister.
I’m delighted to be back in Singapore - on my second visit here as Prime Minister and in such a special year as Singapore celebrates its 50th year of independence. It is a milestone of which every Singaporean is rightly proud, and that one we in Britain celebrate with you.
Singapore and the UK share a deep history and I’m delighted that, as you’ve said, the Foreign Secretary will represent the UK at the celebrations taking place here in August.
Coming here on my first visit outside Europe since the election demonstrates not only the importance we attach to the close historical ties that bind us but also the exciting opportunities that our relationship today presents. Over 1,000 British businesses have a base here. This is our largest export market in the region – worth £6.5 billion in 2013. And the UK is Singapore’s most important destination for investment after China. So this is a relationship that is important for the prosperity of both our countries.
Our discussions so far have focused on how we can strengthen that economic relationship and how we can work together on security issues to create the safe and stable environment that is so important for businesses to flourish.
Let me say a few words on each.
First, our economic relationship. We discussed how the UK and Singapore can work together to capitalise on the opportunities not only opening up in Singapore but across the region.
One of the biggest challenges facing British businesses who want to operate in the region is protection of their intellectual property rights. Today we have agreed to work together to strengthen co-operation on this issue, providing greater reassurance for British companies who want to use Singapore as a springboard to the region.
We have also discussed how we can boost collaboration on research and we have agreed to invest jointly £500,000 in a new partnership between Innovate UK and Singapore’s National Research Foundation to encourage the development of innovative technologies that can enhance city life, whether on energy, transport or healthcare.
This will help accelerate the development of this sector in the UK and put British business in prime position to seize the opportunity of this global market which is predicted to be worth £200 billion by 2030.
Creating new opportunities is vital but so too is ensuring that businesses have the stable conditions they need to succeed. That means responding to growing threats like maritime piracy and cyber attacks as the Prime Minister has just said. And today we have agreed action to tackle both.
We have agreed to provide further assistance to the Singaporean Navy as it works with partners in the region to tackle the threat from piracy and improve maritime security. With 15% of all UK shipping passing through the Malacca and Singapore Straits, it is in our national interest to work with Singapore on this.
It comes alongside our commitment this month to continue to spend 2% of our GDP on defence for the rest of this decade – building new warships and submarines for the Royal Navy, including the 2 largest aircraft carriers the Navy has ever put to sea. And I look forward to them docking at Singapore in the years ahead and playing their part in upholding international peace and security.
We have also agreed to double the amount we spend together to protect our businesses and critical infrastructure from the threat of cyber attacks. This additional funding will build on the agreements made during President Tan’s state visit to the UK last year.
It will provide for further collaboration between our 2 nations’ emergency response teams and we will also develop the cyber professionals of the future through online competitions and learning programmes.
These have been important discussions which we’ll continue over lunch. The increased co-operation we have agreed today will benefit both our countries, creating new opportunities for businesses and spurring economic growth.
And I look forward to continuing our talks and in particular discussing with Prime Minister Lee how we can work together to protect ourselves from the threat of ISIL and to counter the Islamist extremist ideology that is doing so much harm, including to our young people. An issue we have already discussed this morning.