Singapore: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday said the city state is hoping to strengthen its trade links with South Asia, citing the success of its ties with India.
Addressing more than 600 delegates at the inaugural South Asian Diaspora Convention, Lee said Singapore`s 2005 Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement have boosted bilateral trade with India to USD 30 billion last year.
Bilateral and regional trade would increase as India prospers, said Lee, noting the Indians were to have a regional Free Trade Agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
He highlighted Singapore as having the potential for relationship growth with the rest of South Asia as these countries stabilise and grow.
Singapore is well positioned to be springboard for South Asian Diaspora to engage the rest of the world as it was located at crossroads of trade, talent and capital flows, he stressed.
Lee also noted the economic strength of the 50 million South Asian Diaspora, with the Indians remitting USD 50 billion in 2010 and Pakistanis remitting USD 8 billion a year to their home country.
The Singapore Premier also encouraged the South Asian Diaspora to continue its partnership with Singapore and the rest of Asia.
The two-day convention, organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) of Singapore, opened today with speakers deliberating on greater economic integration within South Asia.
Setting the tone of presentations, ISAS chairman Gopinath Pillai said the greater South Asian economic integration would be good not only for the region but for the whole of Asia and the world.
"For centuries, the world has come to know of South Asia and its diversities, through the region`s most significant export: its people," said Pillai.