According to the Vietnamese Trade Office in Singapore, two-way trade reached nearly 20 billion SGD (equivalent to US$14 billion) in 2016.
Vietnam remained the 12th biggest trade partner of Singapore in the year, exporting over 4 billion SGD (US$3 billion) and importing nearly 15.7 billion SGD (over US$11 billion) worth of goods.
High-growth commodities included iron and steel products, grease, leathers, tobaccos, glass products, seafood and vegetables.
Despite a trade balance decline due to Singapore’s economic downturn in 2016, Singapore remained one of the biggest trade partners of Vietnam, after China, Japan, the US, and the Republic of Korea, and the largest trade partner in ASEAN.
Vietnam and Singapore have also actively coordinated at regional and international forums, especially within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
The two sides are sparing no effort to connect the two countries’ economies and with others in ASEAN.
Notably, Singapore’s direct investment in Vietnam has continuously increased since 1998, making it the third biggest investor of Vietnam among 101 countries and territories, with a total investment of US$39 billion, mainly poured into real estate, processing industry, manufacturing, and construction.
The most typical project is the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP).
Industry-trade ministerial-level meetings are conducted periodically (eight months) and rotationally in each country to review the implementation of the Vietnam – Singapore Connectivity Framework Agreement and map out cooperation orientations for the next phase.
So far, the two sides have convened 12 meetings with the latest held in Singapore in September 2016.
Deputy Director of the Export and Import Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Tran Thanh Hai said Vietnam and Singapore recorded an annual average growth of 12 percent.
Singapore imports up to 90 percent of food and foodstuff from foreign markets and this will be a brilliant opportunity for Vietnam to boost the exports of such staples as rice, coffee, tea, vegetables and fruits, and fine-art handicraft products, he added.
Vice versa, Singaporean businesses have strength in processing, packaging, and increasing added value for products, and broad market relationship. As Singapore is considered a global transit destination, Vietnamese firms should, therefore, seek to make inroads into other ASEAN markets via Singapore, he suggested.
To tighten the two countries’ relations, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his spouse are paying an official visit to Vietnam from March 21-24, at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The two sides are expected to discuss strategic orientations and specific measures to further deepen the bilateral strategic partnership in the coming time and keep up with the current rapid developments in the fourth industrial revolution.
They will also continue supporting each other at multilateral forums of ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, and the United Nations for sustainable development and prosperity.
At a meeting with PM Lee Hsien Loong in Hanoi on May 20, 2016, the Vietnamese PM affirmed that his country always attaches great importance to bolstering all-faceted relations with Singapore and hoped Singapore will create the best conditions for Vietnamese firms to export farm produce, seafood, and garment-textile to the market to help balance the trade.
Experts said Vietnam and Singapore should take advantage of their strengths to promote strategic partnership and join the global supply chain. For example, Singapore has strength in capital, research, technology, and markets, while Vietnam boasts advantages in natural resources, labour and markets.
Additionally, it is necessary to help businesses make investments in the respective markets via promoting trade activities and new cooperation methods, especially the public-private partnership (PPP) form.
Experts also recommended drawing investment from multinational groups headquartered in Singapore in the fields of healthcare, education, infrastructure development, processing industry, high technology, and tourism.
Key projects should be defined, especially at industrial parks, urban and logistics areas, they said, adding that the two countries need to create a periodical information exchange mechanism as well as provide information on their socio-economic development situation, policies and laws as a source of reference data for their businesses when seeking market entry.