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Singapore and Vietnam beef up economic and bilateral ties with signing of 12 MOUs

Nicole Lim
Nicole Lim • 4 min read
Singapore and Vietnam beef up economic and bilateral ties with signing of 12 MOUs
Singapore’s Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng speaking at the forum / Photo: Singapore Business Federation
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Singapore and Vietnam have further enhanced their economic collaboration with the signing of 12 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between public and private sector companies from both countries, riding on the booming bilateral trade of $31.3 billion in 2022.

The MOUs were signed at the first overseas edition of the Singapore Regional Business Forum (SRBF) on July 7 in Hanoi, where more than 500 participants ranging from business executives to government officials attended; including Singapore’s Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Lê Minh Khái.

This move to host the forum in Vietnam this year is a significant one, as the two countries are celebrating 50 years of bilateral relationship, and 10 years of strategic partnership. Singapore is also Vietnam’s second-largest foreign investor with a cumulative investment of US$70.8 billion ($95.75 billion) as of end 2022.

In his keynote speech at the event, Tan identifies two emerging areas which presents vast opportunities for Southeast Asia: the digital and green economy.

“We gather at a time where the global economic outlook remains uncertain and under pressure from supply chain disruptions, inflation and climate change,” Tan says. “Despite headwinds and challenges, Southeast Asia remains a bright spot in the global economy, with a young and vibrant consumer market of over 650 million people. In 2022, Asean’s combined GDP was estimated at US$3.66 trillion, and it is projected to grow 4.6% in 2023 and 4.8% in 2024.”

With this, he highlights the three broad areas of partnership between Singapore and Vietnam — innovation, energy and sustainability — which are translated into 12 MOUs with a focus on sustainability, digitalisation, financial services and human capital.

See also: Asean exporters' recovery facing growing and multi-faceted competition from China: Maybank

Some notable MOUs include partnerships between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Vietnam National Innovation Centre (NIC) to grow innovation and enterprise ecosystems; and United Overseas Bank U11 -

’s (UOB) renewed MOU with the Vietnam Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) to further facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Vietnam. UOB has also made a contribution to the University of Economics in Ho Chi Minh City of VND876 million.

UOB previously signed its first MOU with the FIA in 2015, where its FDI advisory unit has facilitated $5.7 billion of projected investments into Vietnam, and generated over 30,000 job opportunities.

In his speech, Tan singled out the various business parks in Vietnam as key examples of deep and long and successful collaboration between both countries.

See also: All about Thai PM's US$14 billion cash handout to reignite growth

The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), a joint venture between Singapore’s Sembcorp Industries and U96 -

Vietnam’s Becamex, was first established in 1996. Since then, there are now 14 VSIPs across 10 provinces in Vietnam today, attracting US$18.4 billion worth of investment capital, and creating around 300,000 jobs.

“The many partnerships, existing and new, that we celebrate today, are a testament to the close and mutually beneficial economic relations of Singapore and Vietnam. I hope that through the discussions today, more partnerships will be forged, and more opportunities of a future world would be seized together.” he adds.

One of the MOUs was signed between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Vietnam National Innovation Centre (NIC), to advance innovation and entrepreneurial exchange between both countries.

Under the MOU, both parties agree over the next three years to cooperate in knowledge sharing to improve innovation and entrepreneurial capacity through education.

NUS and NIC will also develop talent in entrepreneurship and innovation in Vietnam. NUS will sponsor seven students from the National Innovation Challenge to attend the upcoming NUS Entrepreneurship Summer Programme, which runs from 10 to 21 July 2023.

NUS will also award scholarships to promising individuals in Vietnam’s innovation ecosystem for the NUS Master of Science in Venture Creation programme.

Other activities and plans covered include pooling of resources to support start-ups and innovation for market access and partnerships in Vietnam; co-organise activities and programmes in Vietnam promoting the adoption of innovative technology solutions offered by start-ups from Southeast Asia.

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