Singapore opened new horizons for India: PM

Singapore had opened new horizons for India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Sunday and recalled that it was New Delhi`s engagement with Singapore that led to a strategic shift and evolved into the `Look East` policy.

Singapore: Singapore had opened new horizons for India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Sunday and recalled that it was New Delhi`s engagement with Singapore that led to a strategic shift and evolved into the `Look East` policy.

Manmohan Singh, who has been stressing on India`s engagement with the region and came here on his first bilateral visit as prime minister on Saturday, said that the city state had contributed to the country`s progress.

Addressing a gathering at a lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Manmohan Singh said: "It was the opening of our relations with Singapore which led to a strategic shift in India`s foreign and economic policies and which today have evolved into our `Look East` policy. Singapore opened new horizons for India."

The Prime Minister, who reached here from Bali where he attended the India-ASEAN and East Asia Summits, said that it was during Lee Hsien`s visit in 2005 that the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed, a first for New Delhi.

Inviting his Singaporean counterpart to come to India to see the manner in which it had contributed to the country`s progress, Manmohan Singh said: "That Agreement has led to a qualitative upgradation of our trade and investment relations with Singapore."

"Ours is a partnership that stands on the foundation of shared values of pluralism, secularism and democracy, and convergence of our perspectives on regional and international issues."

"Singapore`s rapid transformation and economic growth model is a beacon of hope in the uncertain world we live in today. You serve as an example not only for Asia but for the world at large," Manmohan Singh said about island nation, which is India`s largest trade and investment partner in the ASEAN region.

Trade turnover between the two countries is on an upward trajectory and is expected to go up from USD 17 billion in 2010-11 to USD 20 billion in the next year. Singapore is also India`s largest FDI investor because of CECA.

Manmohan Singh, who last visited Singapore in 2007 for the ASEAN summit, also pushed for greater investment and technology flows from Singapore.

"Our relations also encompass political, security and defence cooperation. We value our engagement with Singapore in these areas."

Referring to people to people exchanges, tourism and the revolution in connectivity, he noted that 11 Indian cities are directly connected by air to Singapore.

According to Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan, there are about 40-45 flights a day from India to Singapore.

The Prime Minister made a specific reference to the "warm welcome" that thousands of Indians working and studying in Singapore had received.

An estimated 3,800 "Indian" companies have registered their presence here.

Manmohan Singh also met President Tony Tan, former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and held discussions aimed at maintaining the high level dialogue with the country.

In the run-up to his brief visit, India and Singapore had signed two memorandums of understanding (MoU) - one on cultural exchange and the other on training of civil servants.

The last bilateral visit here by an Indian prime minister was by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The Singapore prime minister had visited India in 2005.

IANS

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