Singapore: South‑East Asia’s economic hub
Multi ethnic country and economic hub – Singapore is considered the gateway to the South East Asian market and is the most important location for German business in the region: around 1300 German companies have a presence there.
Westerwelle at the IISS
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle gave the Fullerton Lecture at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a well known British think tank. In an address entitled “Europe at a crossroads – the path towards fresh growth”, he promoted Europe as a political project and an investment location. Westerwelle stressed that Europe was on the right track to mastering the debt crisis and that there was more than a silver lining on the horizon. The German Foreign Minister also called for a closer partnership between Europe and Asia in front of guests from the world of politics, the business community and academia, including many students.
In his talks with Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam Westerwelle also discussed efforts to overcome the debt crisis as well as current developments in Europe.
International links the key to success
Westerwelle with his Singaporean counterpart Shanmugam
On Saturday Foreign Minister Westerwelle met his Singaporean counterpart Shanmugam for talks and a visit to the Gardens by the Bay, renowned for their unique architectural design. Westerwelle urged the importance of intensifying relations between Germany and Singapore as well as regional cooperation between the EU and the ASEAN countries.
In a globalized world Germany’s future depended on its capacity to forge international links, the Minister explained. The German Government therefore saw it as a strategic priority to enhance relations with the new powerhouses in Asia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded in 1967 and today has ten member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam). Cooperation in ASEAN to date has focused on economic integration. ASEAN is aiming to establish an economic community with a common market for goods, services, capital and labour by 2015.
Developing partnerships: economic and cultural exchange
Close economic contacts are often the starting-point for broader-based dialogue. “Once economic exchange gets going, cultural exchange quickly follows,” Westerwelle explained. Economic contacts tended to lead on to cooperation in the field of education, which in turn helped strengthen a sense of shared values, he noted.
Singapore is Germany’s number one trading partner in the region. An increasing number of German companies are present in what is area wise South East Asia’s smallest country. The corresponding increase in the size of Singapore’s German community – now numbering over 7000 – is reflected also in Germany’s cultural presence on the ground. There are German Catholic and Evangelical congregations and a branch of the Goethe Institut; Germany’s political foundations also have offices in Singapore. The German European School Singapore is attended by 1500 pupils. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) runs an information centre. At present over 200 German academics and researchers live in the city state, a figure likely to rise over the years ahead.
The German Foreign Minister is in Singapore as part of his 6 day tour of South East Asia. On 10 February he will leave for Jakarta, the third leg of his trip. Indonesia is not only the world’s third largest democracy in terms of population but also a G20 member state and the biggest economy in South East Asia. Jakarta is home to the secretariat of ASEAN, the most important regional organization in the Asian Pacific region.
Last updated 09.02.2013