Philippines and Singapore forged eight agreements in the field of education, science and technology, and economic development as President Rodrigo Duterte and Singaporean President Halimah Yacob met in Malacañang on Monday.
Duterte and Yacob witnessed the signing and exchange of agreements following their expanded bilateral meeting.
The memorandums of understanding covered areas such as infrastructure development; sustainable urban solutions like water resource management; skills training and education cooperation in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; agri-trade; arts and culture; and data protection.
In his joint press statement with Yacob, Duterte said he and the Singapore leader reaffirmed their commitment to deepen the two countries’ cooperation in defense and security, and trade and investments.
“I asked President Yacob’s support as we encourage further Singaporean participation in our priority investment areas. I also sought to further our cooperation in agriculture, education and training, science and technology, [and] tourism and cultural exchanges,” the President said.
“Over the past 50 years, our governments and peoples have continuously strengthened our commitment and invested resources toward cultivating a special relationship that lives up to its vast potential. With the agreements signed today, we take the first of our eager steps toward the next half-century of our natural, mutually reinforcing and beneficial partnership,” he added.
Duterte said Singapore was the country’s second highest source of investments in 2018, committing a total of P21.18 billion, or 11.8 percent of total foreign pledges.
“Singapore is also our seventh largest trading partner with two-way trade at $10.49 billion US,” he added.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he shared with Yacob his administration’s gains in peace and development in Mindanao, particularly the progress in establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We discussed ways by which our cooperation could help contribute in bringing just and lasting peace
and meaningful progress and development in Mindanao — one of the greatest and most crucial undertakings that our nation has embarked [upon],” the President said.
“With mutual trust, respect and abiding amity, I am confident that we will achieve our shared goals and aspirations for our peoples. We will forge ahead and bring our ties to even greater heights of [purposive] cooperation and friendship between the Philippines and Singapore,” he added.
Yacob reaffirmed the “strong” ties between the Philippines and Singapore, which she said “has borne fruitful partnerships” over many years.
“The economic ties between our two countries are strong and robust. But President Duterte and I agreed that we can do even more together. There is room to further boost trade and investment flows,” she said.
“We hope to make progress on updating the Singapore-Philippines avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and the expansion of the Bilateral Air Transport Agreement, which will increase connectivity and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth,” she added.
Yacob also expressed appreciation to the contributions of the Filipino community to Singapore’s society and economy.
She said there were more than 200,000 Filipinos living, working and studying in Singapore.
“These exchanges between our peoples will continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship and deepen mutual understanding between our two countries,” Yacob said.
“There is a lot that we can do together, both bilaterally and at multilateral fora. And I hope this visit can kickstart some of these new chapter of areas — these new areas of cooperation. I am confident that the next chapter of Singapore-Philippines relations will be marked by deeper friendships and closer collaboration between our peoples and our two countries,” she added.