Remarks by President Halimah Yacob at the State Banquet Hosted by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands

Your Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands

Your Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

Your Royal Highness Princess Beatrix

Your Royal Highnesses

Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

           

Good evening. Let me begin by thanking your Majesties for your gracious invitation and warm hospitality shown to me and my delegation. It is indeed an honour and a great pleasure for me to visit in this historic city, to reciprocate the Dutch State Visit to Singapore in 2013. We are honoured that Your Royal Highness Princess Beatrix, who made that visit to Singapore as Queen, is gracing us with your presence this evening.

Singapore and the Netherlands have forged a close partnership over many years. We are both outward looking countries with open economies and world-class ports and airports. Trade is our lifeblood and our two countries are the gateways to our respective regions. Singapore and the Netherlands also share a common commitment to multilateralism, free trade and the rule of law. Being connected to the world has always been part of our history and our beliefs. As pioneers of ASEAN and the European Union respectively, our two countries are firm advocates of regional integration.

Singapore and the Netherlands have a longstanding and historical friendship. The imprint of Dutch pioneers is found throughout Singapore.  For instance, the Van Kleef Centre, a modern aquatic science centre, was named to honour the Dutch mining expert, Karl Willem Benjamin van Kleef, who lived in Singapore and left his entire estate in 1930 to the Municipal Government. The centre was named during the State Visit in January 2013. It is aptly located on Albert Winsemius Lane, named after the late Dr Winsemius whose vision shaped Singapore’s economic development during Singapore’s early years of independence. Yesterday, I met Ankie and Pieter Winsemius and conveyed our appreciation for their father’s many contributions.

Dr Winsemius and Mr Van Kleef are two of the many Dutch men and women who have contributed to Singapore’s success.  Today, there are more than 1,600 Dutch companies in Singapore. Singapore is the top overseas investment destination for the Netherlands in Southeast Asia, with total investments amounting more than €60 billion. The Netherlands is Singapore’s fourth largest global investor and third largest trading partner in the EU. Likewise, Singapore has more than €12 billion worth of investments in the Netherlands. When ratified, the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed last month will further deepen economic relations between Singapore and the Netherlands. For a country that focuses on ranking, Singapore is always keen to study the Netherlands which is ranked second on the Global Innovation Index. I am sure the Netherlands will be ranked number one soon.

This State Visit will pave the way for even stronger ties between Singapore and the Netherlands, and our respective regions. I am delighted that various MOUs and agreements in areas such as water and food technology will be signed during the visit. I am also accompanied by a business delegation, and we will be visiting Rotterdam and Eindhoven. I look forward to better understanding how the Netherlands has developed into one of the most innovative societies in the world and exploring new opportunities for collaborations.

Your Majesties,

In closing, I thank you again for your warmth and friendship with Singapore. I am confident that our partnership will continue to flourish and strengthen in the years ahead.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me in a toast to the continued good health and success of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and to the enduring friendship between Singapore and the Netherlands.