Wed 08-03-2017 18:54 PM
ABU DHABI, 8th March, 2017 (WAM) -- The Second UAE-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting kicked off here on Wednesday. It was co-chaired by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Al Gergawi highlighted the unique historic ties between both countries, based on understanding, mutual respect and the desire to develop such ties. He noted that these meetings represented a valuable opportunity and an efficient communication platform to discuss achievements and plan new horizons of mutual co-operation.
He expressed his desire for greater co-operation with Singapore in several areas, including commerce, investment, innovation and technology, and for leading partnerships in the sectors of food security, energy, infrastructure, transportation, logistics services and agriculture.
The UAE minister noted that the level of non-oil trade between both countries stood at US$4.1 billion in 2016, compared to $4.7 billion in 2015. He also noted that this 12 percent decrease should be an incentive to develop economic and trade relations between both countries.
On the investment front, he stressed that there are large UAE investments in Singapore, including investments from ADNOC, Al Futtaim and Al Thuraya companies.
Al Gergawi said that Dubai Expo 2020 will be an exceptional international event, and the main platform for establishing rewarding partnerships on both economic and cultural levels. He added that the UAE is looking forward to Singapore’s confirmation to participate in this major event.
He stressed that the region is facing large geopolitical challenges, and the UAE can overcome many of these challenges, and transform them into strategic and economic opportunities.
Al Gergawi underlined that the UAE rejects the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, in a manner that threatens their security and stability. He also called on Iran to positively respond to the UAE’s genuine calls to reach a peaceful settlement regarding its occupation of three Emirati islands; Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, either through direct talks or resort to an international arbitration.
He said, "The terrorism and extremism pose a constant challenge that targets the stability of our countries, citizens and expatriate residents, as well socio-economic system."
The UAE minister referred to the establishment of the Hedaya Centre in Abdu Dhabi as a response to growing calls from members of the International Forum to Combat Terrorism. It is a multilateral centre dedicated to dialogue, training and research to combat violent extremism. The UAE and the USA also worked together to establish the Sawab Centre in 2015 to combat extremist speech.
Al Gergawi said President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a Decree No. 2 in 2015, to criminalise practices that relate to religious contempt and to combat all forms of discrimination and hate speech.
Dr. Balakrishnan said that the co-operation between both countries has developed since the establishment of diplomatic ties 32 years ago. He added that Singapore has received more than 54 Emirati visits since 2014, in the sectors of defence, education and the environment.
He stressed the importance of moving forward on the economic path that is being pursued by both countries, based on economic openness and free trade. The Singaporean official also hoped to fully implement a free trade agreement between both countries.
At the end of the meeting, both parties signed several Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), between the Abu Dhabi International Market and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to extend co-operation in the field of FINTECH, and between the Supreme Court of Singapore and the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts for co-operation in the field of justice. An MoU between the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts and the Supreme Court of Singapore on mutual recognition and the application of judicial decisions was also signed.