INDIA Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Singapore on Monday for a two-day state visit during which the two countries will sign the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership to usher in closer ties between the two countries. A number of important memoranda of understanding (MoU) is also expected during the visit.
Mr Modi's visit comes at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He last visited Singapore in March 2015 to attend the state funeral service of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
The two countries enjoy excellent relations, with broad-based cooperation in the areas of culture, defence, skills development and education. There have been a steady stream of political exchanges between the two countries over the past two years, including a state visit to India by President Tony Tan in February this year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and a number of India state chief ministers have visited Singapore this year.
In 2014, India was Singapore's 12th largest trading partner and export destination; bilateral trade was S$24.6 billion. The country is also important to Singapore both as a source of investment and destination for investment.
In 2013, foreign direct investment (FDI) from India into Singapore was S$23.7 billion, an increase of 3.34 per cent year-on-year and Singapore's direct investment abroad (DIA) to India was S$12.1 billion, an increase of 12.1 per cent year-on-year.
Mr Modi's visit marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and India. To celebrate this milestone, the two prime ministers will unveil a commemorative joint stamp issue.
Among the highlights of the visit will be the signing of a strategic partnership by the two PMs on Tuesday. The partnership will outline the two countries' interest in expanding cooperation in key areas like smart cities and urban solutions, skills development, connectivity and economic cooperation. This will build on Singapore's existing contributions to India in these areas, including the master-planning of Amaravati, the new capital city of the state of Andhra Pradesh and Singapore's support of the Centre of Excellence in Tourism Training in Udaipur, in the state of Rajasthan.
It will also acknowledge the importance of enhancing connectivity between India and this region, including through the expansion of air links as this will promote further trade and investment between the two countries as well as people-to-people links. At present, there are 440 flights per week from Singapore to various destinations in India.
The partnership will also allow Singapore to map out the future direction in its cooperation with India in the areas of defence, cultural exchanges, financial services, water and waste management and port management.
Mr Modi will be accompanied by the Indian National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who is a former Indian High Commissioner to Singapore. Various other senior officials from the Prime Minister's Office and India's Ministry of External Affairs will also accompany him.
During his visit, he will deliver the 37th Singapore Lecture on Monday. The event will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The Indian PM will also deliver a special address at the India-Singapore Economic Convention hosted by Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), S Iswaran, on Tuesday and interact with Singapore business leaders.
PM Modi will also visit ITE College Central together with Prime Minister Lee, where he will learn more about Singapore's approach to vocational education and skills training.
During the visit, eight MoUs are expected to be signed by the two sides. Among them will be an agreement on further defence cooperation as the two nations already enjoy a close defence relationship. Another important MoU will be on cooperation in the area of cyber security. This will focus on establishing a formal framework for professional dialogue and related cooperation between the cyber security agencies in both countries.
Another MoU to be signed is on cooperation between the National Institution for Transforming India and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, the aim of which is to promote knowledge and information exchange and dissemination in the areas of planning between the two countries.