Merkel and Lee promise deeper ties

Singapore and Germany have signed a joint declaration to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation and deepen information exchanges.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is in Germany for the G20 summit, expressed commitment to tackle issues surrounding finance technology (fintech) and sporting events, while calling for deeper defence ties.

Speaking in Berlin (pictured), Lee said the Lion City and Germany “enjoy a close partnership, underpinned by broad and deep collaboration” and were looking to boost “defence cooperation in areas of mutual interest”. Lee, the world leader with the highest official pay, with a wage of US$1.7 million a year, thanked the Germany military for holding joint training exercises with Singapore’s armed forces.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said both nations agreed on the importance of strengthening multilateral ties and keeping trade routes open. She said Singapore had been successful at securing trade deals in the past and opening up to new technological developments.

“As far as our bilateral ties are concerned, it’s fair to say they are very close, very friendly indeed. We have been pursuing an open dialogue on foreign policy and security issues, we have excellent economic and trade ties, and we have a very intensive research cooperation,” the veteran chancellor said.

The embattled Lee praised his host, Merkel.

“I greatly value her advice, and her friendship and her insights,” Lee said, adding that he was “happy that our cooperation has strengthened since my last visit [in 2015]”.

Bilateral diplomatic relations were established in 1965.

Lee praised the German role in the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the first bilateral deal between EU and Asean members looking at removing tariffs and opening up both markets to trade.

The trade agreement hit a barrier in May when the European Court of Justice ruled that it had to be ratified by the European Union’s 38 national and regional authorities before it could be implemented.

The path was now clear for the process to be completed, Lee told the media.

“It will bring significant benefits to Singapore, Germany and the EU and signal clearly our support for open international trade,” Lee said. “It will also be a pathfinder for an EU-Asean FTA [free-trade agreement], and help draw our two regions even closer together.”

Germany is already Singapore’s largest EU trading partner, while Singapore is Germany’s most significant Asean trading partner. More than 1,600 German companies are also based in the city-state, notably in areas like electronics and engineering.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in Berlin. Picture credit: YouTube