The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, made his first visit to Singapore on 24 February.
During his stay, the Chancellor met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat and a range of other senior political and business leaders. Boosting bilateral trade and investment ties was a key focus of the Chancellor’s meetings.
The Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister agreed to launch a new UK-Singapore Financial Dialogue, deepening ties between two of the world’s leading international financial centres and establish a London-Singapore private sector forum to support the development of these two major offshore RMB centres. They also exchanged views on issues arising from the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Sydney over the weekend.
The Chancellor visited the PSA terminal to emphasise the Government’s drive to boost exports to Singapore and rapidly growing emerging markets in South East Asia. Trade with Singapore delivers a net benefit to the UK economy of nearly £2 billion a year, with returns on British investments here adding over £3 billion a year. The Chancellor welcomed the fact that British firms have won £327 million in rail contracts alone this financial year, including the awarding of a £105 million contract to Gammon on the eve of his visit.
The Chancellor was also keen to promote the opportunities for smaller, innovative British firms in Singapore and the wider region, building on the established presence of major players such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, GSK, Unilever, Rolls-Royce, and Shell. The Chancellor was therefore pleased to announce during his visit:
a new joint venture between UK data analytics company TAH and Singapore IT services company Web Synergies, which will enable both companies to expand in SE Asia and the UK;
the opening of emerging market currency specialist R5’s office in Singapore, facilitating their expansion into the Asia Pacific region; and
awarding of several government contracts to the digital communications firm Reading Room.
The Chancellor also welcomed the strong collaboration between the UK and Singapore in third markets, including in China at the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City. Underscoring the importance of Singaporean investment to the UK economy, the Chancellor was pleased to welcome the decision by Fullerton Fund Management to open an office in London and the intention of Global IP exchange to do so. He also met Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek, Lim Chow Kiat, Chief Investment Officer at GIC, and senior Singaporean business representatives to encourage further investment in the UK, including in infrastructure, such as Sembcorp’s decision last April to invest £1bn in waste-to-energy facilities in Teesside and Merseyside.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
I am delighted to have made my first official visit to Singapore and announce the new UK-Singapore Financial Dialogue, as well as see at first hand so many of the successful partnerships that British and Singaporean firms have worked hard to establish.
Singapore is the UK’s largest export market in SE Asia, accounting for around half our exports to the ASEAN region (though some may be re-exported elsewhere). Singapore is an established export for the UK and is crucial to UK efforts to boost trade and investment links with rapidly growing emerging markets in the dynamic ASEAN region of 600 million. Over 1,000 British companies are present in the city state, in many cases serving as their regional headquarters for ASEAN and beyond. The UK remains the 3rd largest foreign direct investor in Singapore, after the US and the Netherlands. Three-quarters of Singaporean investment into the EU goes to the UK.