In three months, Britain leaves the European Union and intends to further intensify its relations with South East Asia. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says that a post-Brexit Britain aims to form strategic collaborations with Singapore, a partnership that will be launched within the week.
Speaking on his first of a three-day visit to Asia, the Foreign Secretary said that while what was right for Singapore may not be always right for Britain, “there is much we can learn from Singapore, not least the excellence of its education system, the long-term investment in infrastructure and a strategic approach to how a nation sustains competitive advantage in the world,” he said.
He emphasized how the British government can draw encouragement from Singapore and highlighted how after gaining independence in 1965, Singapore did not become isolated, instead, became more open.
He likewise underscored the fact that Singapore’s real gross domestic product per capita has increased 15 times since its independence which reached US$58,000 (S$78,710), making it the 8th richest country in the world (by GDP) surpassing even the UK.
According to Sec. Hunt, the UK-Singapore Partnership will be launched with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Jan 4 (Friday).
The partnership was given concurrence by the prime ministers of both countries in April 2018 at the Commonwealth Summit. Among the areas that will be covered will be education, innovation, security and defense, and culture and youth.
According to the Foreign Secretary, Britain is the biggest European investor in South-east Asia, with ASEAN trade amounting to almost £37 billion (S$63.8 billion), and with over 4,000 British companies employing more than 50,000 people in Singapore. “Those connections are why Britain’s post-Brexit role should be to act as an invisible chain linking together the democracies of the world, those countries which share our values and support our belief in free trade, the rule of law and open societies,” Sec. Hunt concluded.