New Delhi: India and Singapore on Wednesday expressed satisfaction that despite the pandemic, they had been able to add considerable substance and content to the bilateral relationship, especially in trade and defence cooperation.
This was stated during the 15th round of Foreign Office Consultations on Wednesday held virtually.
During the talks, both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and also discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral economic engagement.
Easing travel restrictions and resumption of people-to-people contact was also discussed, a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.
The Indian delegation was led by Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East), MEA, and the Singapore delegation was led by Chee Wee Kiong, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
Secretary (East) thanked Singapore for their support during the second Covid wave.
Issues pertaining to ASEAN-India relations and India-Singapore cooperation in the Indo-Pacific were also discussed.
Singapore has taken over as country coordinator for India at the ASEAN for a three-year period (2021-2024). Views were exchanged on international and strategic issues pertaining to the region.
Both sides agreed to hold the next consultations at a mutually convenient date, it said.
In a separate event, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday said India should consider greater economic integration with Southeast Asia to unlock the country’s vast potential.
Speaking at the opening session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual meeting, which was held virtually, he highlighted that Southeast Asia and India have many complementary strengths, and added that the jurisdictions should build on these to restore connectivity and enhance supply chains in the post-pandemic era.
“India has an important role to play in contributing to the diversification of the global supply chain and making it more resilient,” Heng was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.
“Indian companies have the capability, scale and resources to serve more than just its domestic market, huge as it is.”
Heng said it is important for ASEAN and India to enhance digital connectivity, and reiterated that the door remains open for India to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The RCEP came into force last November, with Singapore ratifying the agreement in April this year. India pulled out of the partnership in 2019.
The RCEP, which is the world’s largest trade pact, involves all 10 ASEAN members and key partners Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Heng also said that Singapore is keen to partner India to better integrate their digital economies and collaborate in new areas like fintech and sustainability.