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Singapore-Russia trade links can be improved: PM Lee

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While trade between Singapore and Russia has quadrupled in the last 10 years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong feels there is scope for the two countries to do much more together.

WHILE trade between Singapore and Russia has quadrupled in the last 10 years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong feels there is scope for the two countries to do much more together.

"In terms of potential, what we can do, I would say we need to do more in trade . . . our trade is not in proportion to the potential," he said in an interview with Russian news agency Tass at the Istana last Saturday.

The interview was conducted by Tass first deputy director-general Mikhail Gusman ahead of Mr Lee's four-day visit to Russia that begins on Tuesday.

In 2015, Russia was Singapore's 21st-largest trading partner with bilateral trade amounting to S$7.66 billion. This was up from S$4.68 billion in 2011.

Mr Lee said Singapore is planning to negotiate a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. He also hopes to meet Russian business leaders during his visit to Moscow this week and tell them more about investment opportunities in Singapore.

Major Russian companies such as Lukoil and Gazprom are already operating in Singapore, while Singapore firms such as Olam International and Changi Airports International are active in Russia.

Singapore and Russia are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year, and Mr Lee hailed the strong economic, cultural and people links enjoyed by the two countries.

He added that Singapore is working with the Russian government to build a new Russian Cultural Centre in Singapore.

"We have found a site and it is a good location. I think the plans are advanced. I look forward to the day when we see a Russian Orthodox onion-dome appearing in Singapore," said Mr Lee.