Introductory Remarks by President Halimah Yacob at the Government Dinner Hosted by Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte
Your Majesty King Willem-Alexander
Your Majesty Queen Máxima
Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you Prime Minister Rutte for your kind words and warm welcome.
The Dutch are good friends of Singapore. The generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation during this State Visit is testimony to the strong ties between our two countries.
Singapore and the Netherlands are both maritime countries, and share a commitment to multilateralism, free trade and the rule of law which makes us natural partners. In a world where the global order is shrinking, it is even more important to keep it open and free. As Singapore enters a new phase of development as an innovation-driven economy, we continue to be inspired by your country’s advances in various fields, including water, circular economy and agri-technology. I visited many innovation sites and they are impressive. There are lots which Singapore can learn from. Prime Minister, as you yourself said in Singapore in 2016, “We must not only safeguard the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew and Albert Winsemius, but also update it for the present day”.
Over the last two days, my delegation and I have had insightful and candid discussions with many Dutch friends and colleagues. We reviewed the excellent state of relations and explored new areas of cooperation, building on our shared interests in trade, investment, innovation, sustainable development, education and water management. I saw first-hand the many cutting-edge research projects being carried out in Prodock, Deltares, and the universities. There is much that our two countries can learn from each other. I am heartened to see many agreements concluded during this State Visit, which will pave the way for further collaborations.
Last month, we witnessed the signing of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) and EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (ESPCA). Singapore would like to thank the Netherlands for your longstanding support for the agreements and we look forward to the early ratification of the EUSFTA by the European Parliament so that both sides can take advantage of the benefits soon. This can also be a pathfinder to an EU-ASEAN FTA, and will be complemented by the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) that is currently being negotiated. These agreements will also strengthen the bilateral ties between our two countries.
I am confident that the longstanding bilateral relations between our two countries will continue to flourish. I hope our discussions over dinner will open yet more doors for future cooperation that will benefit both countries.
Let me conclude by thanking His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima and Prime Minister Rutte for your hospitality. We have not only learnt new things from the Netherlands but we have also deepened our relationship. This trip has certainly enlarged the space for collaboration between our two countries.