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Singapore, Vietnam ink deals to broaden collaboration in green economy, innovation

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Singapore and Vietnam have expanded their scope of bilateral economic cooperation and signed new deals on sustainable infrastructure, skills development and the exchange of innovation talent.

Energy connectivity, sustainability, and digital solutions and innovation are new and emerging areas in which both countries want to improve cooperation under the Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Framework Agreement.

On Monday, they exchanged side letters to mark the expansion of the agreement – the first upgrade since it was signed in 2005 – and also inked three new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) in the areas of green economy, innovation and skills development.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is on a three-day official visit to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, witnessed these events with his counterpart Pham Minh Chinh.

PM Lee had earlier in the day laid a wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, before attending a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace. He then met Mr Chinh at the Office of Government Building.

Xin chào from Hanoi! I am in Vietnam for an Official Visit at the invitation of PM Pham Minh Chinh. PM Chinh visited…Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, August 27, 2023

Singapore was Vietnam’s second-largest foreign investor as at last December, with a cumulative investment of US$70.8 billion (S$96 billion). Vietnam was Singapore’s 11th-largest trading partner, with bilateral goods trade growing 16.4 per cent year on year to $31.3 billion in 2022.

The letters on the Connectivity Framework Agreement were exchanged between Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng and Vietnam’s Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dzung.

A day earlier, the two ministers co-chaired the annual Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Ministerial Meeting, where they discussed collaborations in new and emerging areas. They also noted progress made in sectors such as education, finance, and information technology and telecommunications.

Dr Tan said Singapore can partner Vietnam in its next phase of growth as it transitions to the green and digital economy.

“Singapore companies can build on the strong foundation and partnerships with Vietnam to capture opportunities in these new areas,” he said.

On the sidelines of Sunday’s meeting, an MOU on innovation cooperation was signed between Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research and Vietnam’s National Innovation Centre.

Among other things, it promotes collaboration in advanced manufacturing involving both countries’ small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.

Meanwhile, professionals from Singapore and Vietnam might soon find it easier to secure stints in certain innovation-related areas of work in each other’s countries, under one of the three new MOUs signed on Monday.

The deal establishes an innovation talent exchange programme between both countries. A joint task force will be set up to support the implementation of the MOU, which was signed by Dr Tan, Mr Dzung and Vietnam’s Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung.

Further details on the programme, including its qualifying criteria and launch date, will be released in due course. 

Dr Tan, who is also Manpower Minister, signed a second MOU with Mr Dung to promote the sharing of knowledge and best practices on skills development and labour.

It covers areas such as the use of technology to improve online training, the integration of green and sustainable skills into training programmes, and occupational safety and health.

The third MOU advances collaboration between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City in sustainable urban development and infrastructure, and aims to improve the bankability of such projects. 

It was signed between Infrastructure Asia – which is jointly set up by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore – and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.

There was also progress made in climate action. Following an MOU inked last October, Singapore and Vietnam exchanged a letter of intent on Monday after substantively concluding negotiations of a legally binding implementation agreement, on the trading of carbon credits compliant with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Once the implementation agreement is signed, companies in Singapore that are carbon tax liable will be able to buy eligible carbon credits generated from authorised projects to offset up to 5 per cent of their taxable emissions from 2024.

Singapore has signed similar MOUs or letters of intent with 11 other countries besides Vietnam.

In the area of renewable energy, a consortium comprising Sembcorp Utilities and PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation was given approval by the Vietnamese authorities to conduct a site survey on offshore wind energy.

The survey will determine the potential of offshore wind energy in an area of 200,000ha, which could be exported from Vietnam to Singapore. The Republic’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) has also signalled support for the project through a letter of intent to the consortium.

All parties will continue working together towards conditional approval by EMA for the consortium’s cross-border electricity trading proposal.

Two existing agreements were also renewed on Monday during PM Lee’s visit – one is on education cooperation, while the other allows senior officials from the Communist Party of Vietnam to participate in study visits and executive education programmes in Singapore.

By Prisca Ang – The Straits Times – August 28, 2023

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