MOSCOW OFFICIAL

Big opportunities for cooperation

Singapore hosted the first Days of Moscow

For the first time in history, Moscow and Singapore signed a cooperation program for 2017-2019. The announcement was made during the opening ceremony for Days of Moscow in the Lion City by Head of the Department for External Economic Affairs and International Relations (DVMS) Sergey Cheremin.

The documents points out that priority areas of cooperation include the development of public transportation, urban planning, environmental protection, as well as housing and communal services, IT and innovations.

“Singapore is one of the most comfortable places to live and do business with phenomenal technologies that have been successfully implemented in the urban economy,” the Head of the Department for External Economic Affairs and International Relations (DVMS) Sergey Cheremin told journalists after signing the document, “The local administration have interesting urban solutions, a well-functioning transportation system, and phenomenal healthcare and education systems. But we also have a lot to be proud of.

According to the minister, the ambitious task set by Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin - to make Russia the best city in the world to live in - is very similar to what the Singapore authorities did for their citizens.

It is important that the Russian capital, with its new developed transport infrastructure, high quality health care, education and cultural systems, is of interest to the Singaporeans. One piece of evidence is the fact that there has been an increase of enterprises with Singaporean capital in Moscow: there were 25 of them in 2015, which is a two-fold increase from 2014.

As of January 1, 2016, Singapore was in 24th place among Moscow’s foreign partners in terms of total investment volumes. Both Moscow and Singapore authorities, however, think that the level of economic cooperation does not live up to the potential of the two capitals and can be increased several fold.

During the discussion between Mr. Cheremin and the State Minister of National Development, Trade and Industry of Singapore Koh Poh Koon, the two sides talked about switching to settlements in rubles and Singapore dollars in the near future. Right now, all of the settlements between Moscow and Singapore are done in US currency. This results in huge operational expenses in terms of currency conversion, which, according to Sergey Cheremin and Koh Poh Koon, does not stimulate cooperation. Negotiations on this issue will continue.

The central Days of Moscow event in Singapore was the business forum that addressed issues of bilateral cooperation. the forum was attended by more than 200 big business representatives, as well as experts in the spheres of urban planning, information technology and finance.

During his address, Sergey Cheremin talked about the investment potential of the Russian capital and the measures to attract foreign investment to state infrastructure projects with the use of public-private partnerships.

In 2016, the enterprises and organizations registered in Moscow carried out trade operations with over 200 countries all over the world. Foreign trade turnover with foreign partners in the first half of 2016 amounted to $86 billion: $32.8 billion in imports and $53.2 billion in exports.

The Minister also said that Moscow is interested in working with Singaporean investors who are focusing on advanced technology, research and science. “I think that this can be one of the main elements of our cooperation,” he said, “The Russian capital is also interested in Singapore’s experience in the establishment of a technopark system, the establishment of an international financial center, the development of the transportation system and many other areas.”

The Singapore Ambassador to Russia Lim Kheng Hua, who spoke at the forum, said that Moscow is becoming more comfortable and appealing to work in for foreign companies every year, including companies from Southeast Asia.

“I see a lot of opportunities for companies who want to do business in Moscow today. the city is going through a cycle of active development. Over the past few years of being in Russia, I have seen a lot of changes for the better. Moscow is becoming one of the most beautiful cities in Europe,” she said.

According to Lim Kheng Hua, Singaporean companies should focus on Russia and Moscow as a convenient market.

Andrey Tatarinov, the Russian Ambassador to Singapore, recalled that relations between the two countries have been developing for over half a century, and partner relations between Moscow and Singapore were established in the 2000s.

“I think that Moscow and Singapore can and should work together in order to create a more comfortable environment for mutual development,” Tatarinov said.

Within the scope of Days of Moscow in Singapore, there was also a round table to address urban planning issues, as well as a conference dedicated to the implementation of information technology in a modern metropolis. The head of the Moscow delegation Sergey Cheremin took part in the Russia-Singapore Business Council meeting.

There was quite a stir at the Singapore Science Centre, where hundreds of people waited in line for hours in order to get an autograph from a living legend - the Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. He came to the Lion City as part of the official delegation of the Moscow government in order to take part in the Days of Moscow in Singapore, specifically in opening the “Russian Space” exhibition.

Shkaplerov not only signed postcards, photos and books about cosmonauts, but also answered questions from the general public. Surprisingly, a lot of Singaporeans still remember Yuri Gagarin well. This is why the Russian cosmonaut, whose lecture also went viral on social media, talked a lot about the first human in space.

“I was in space twice, and one of those times I spent 200 days there,” Anton Shkaplerov said, “I circled the Earth a thousand times. But I’ll never forget how Singapore looks at night, because you can’t mistake it for any other city in the world. I hope that a citizen of Singapore will go into space with Russian cosmonauts soon. Especially considering that Russians have taken representatives of eight countries into space with them, including from the neighboring Malaysia.”

CAPITAL IDEAS

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