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Singapore-German ties: focus on trade and innovation

THE relationship between Germany and Singapore is focused on trade and innovation. This can be seen by the signing of a joint declaration on strengthening cybersecurity cooperation to deepen information exchange earlier this year.

The two countries made a commitment to work together more closely in areas such as finance technology (fintech) and sports, and also welcomed stronger defence ties, including an enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement that is under discussion.

Both countries enjoy a close partnership based on broad and deep collaboration. Other areas in which both sides are aiming to boost ties are in terms of defence cooperation in areas of mutual interest, where Germany has previously hosted Singapore for training for the Singapore Armed Forces.

Singapore and Germany share a history of political, defence and economic ties and diplomatic relations that date back to 1965.

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In the area of trade, Germany is a firm supporter of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA). This is the first bilateral agreement between the EU and any Asean nation. It aims to remove tariffs and give both sides greater access to each other's markets. The agreement will bring significant benefits to Singapore and Germany as well as the EU, and is a clear sign of the republic's commitment to free and open international trade. It is also seen as a stepping stone towards working on an EU-Asean FTA, which will help draw the two regions closer together.

While negotiations for the free trade deal first began in 2009, unforeseen circumstances have caused them to lose some momentum.

Last year's Brexit surprise and the European Commission's decision to request a European Court of Justice opinion on the agreement have both slowed down the process somewhat.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a strong supporter and has previously said that it was in Europe's interest to move forward on the agreement.

Singapore and Germany also enjoy good investment and trade ties, with Germany being Singapore's largest EU trading partner, while the republic is also Germany's largest Asean trading partner.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 German companies are also based in Singapore, involved in sectors like electronics and engineering.

Major German corporations and Mittelstand (small and medium-sized firms) are expanding in Singapore and using it as an innovation hub, while Singapore firms are also investing in Germany in areas such as aerospace and hospitality.