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Congratulatory Remarks by H.E. Kim Gunn, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, at the 5th Korea-Singapore Forum

  • Date : 2021-05-28 16:07:00
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Congratulatory Remarks by H.E. Kim Gunn,

Deputy Minister for Political Affairs,Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Republic of Korea

The 5th Korea-Singapore Forum
28 May, 2021

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong,

Deputy Secretary Ng Teck Hean,

President Lee Keun,

Distinguished participants,

Ambassador Ahn and Teo, 

Welcome to the 5th Korea-Singapore Forum.

At the outset, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Korea Foundation and the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, the two organizers of this event. They have done excellent work in preparing for the forum. You can imagine the difficulty in arranging event like this in the midst of COVID-19. My warm welcome and sincere thanks also go to all the participants who are with us virtually.

It would have been better if we were having an in-person meeting and talking face to face. Especially, my personal favorites, kopi and kaya toasts are sorely missed this year. I am addicted to it, thanks to Ambassador Teo. However, I am certain that I will find a different kind of joy in virtually interacting with my Singaporean friends. And I hope this forum can create a momentum for revitalizing cooperation between our two countries.

Last September, I went to Singapore using the Fast Track. It was a short, two-day trip, but it was long enough to see great potential between our two countries.
I also had the chance and honor to meet with Deputy Secretary Ng Teck Hean(응 텍 힌). Deputy Secretary, I remember we had a fruitful conversation about COVID-19 measures. I would like to express my thanks to you for your efforts to facilitate the movement of our two peoples across borders. I was inspired by your insight on how our two countries can advance bilateral cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to note that overall, COVID-19 responses by Korea and Singapore were successful, especially in the initial stages. Nevertheless, as the COVID-19 virus has been mutating, we should be doing more to sustain our resilience.

The current COVID-19 crisis drew our attention to innovation as a means of bolstering resilience. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of contactless communication. Today’s virtual forum is a case in point. We can continue our daily lives while avoiding the risk of infection. Innovation has become modus operandi.

One of the areas where we can put innovation to good use is to build smart cities. This is one of the topics of today’s forum. Smart cities make governance more efficient and raise the quality of life. In the post COVID-19 era, smart cities will also make quality healthcare more readily available.
Singapore is a leader in the smart cities agenda within ASEAN. Singapore launched the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, or the ASCN, when it assumed its chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018. My government is a participant of the ASCN. And Korea chose Kota Kinabalu as a partner city for the ASCN activities, and signed an MOU with Malaysia in 2019. Since then, Korea has been working closely with Malaysia within the ASCN led by Singapore. Moving forward, the Korean government will carry out more substantive projects on developing smart cities with our ASEAN partners.
Singapore has been pushing forward with its national Smart Nation Initiatives. I believe our two countries can do much more together if we jointly build on our experience.

Another item that we can collaborate on is industry of the future. This will be a driving force in the 4th industrial revolution. Korea and Singapore are well-known for our industrial clusters, and we have been working together in many areas.
In this regard, I would like to remind you of the Korea Startup Center which I visited last September in Singapore. The Center was established in Singapore last year, and primarily supports Korean startups in overseas markets. At the same time, the Center provides opportunities for foreign corporations to collaborate with competitive Korean startups. Singapore is the first and only ASEAN country so far where the Korea Startup Center has been established. It demonstrates the close economic relations between our two countries.
We can also strengthen our substantive cooperation on e-commerce. Last year, Korea and Singapore initiated negotiations for a digital partnership agreement. The agreement includes regulations on the emerging digital trade and data flows. When it is signed, it would be the first digital partnership agreement for Korea.
Using these as foundations, we can work to initiate substantive cooperation.

We can also make our societies more resilient by enhancing cooperation on public health and supply chains.
As the first initiative of the New Southern Policy Plus, my government is strengthening comprehensive public health cooperation with ASEAN countries. We have been providing ODA to ASEAN countries to support their emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also expand our fellowship and scholarship programs to promote capacity building of medical personnel.
I believe that Korea and Singapore can work together closely to advance this public health initiative of the NSP Plus. For instance, we can jointly provide capacity-building programs to medical personnel in other ASEAN countries.

Speaking of promoting resilience in economy, restoration of the global supply chain is also essential. The global lockdown has paralyzed the global logistics system and increased uncertainty, which led to the supply and demand slump in global trade.
This has serious repercussions for Korea and Singapore, since our two countries are highly dependent on global trade. Unless global manufacturing bases and markets recover from the impacts of the COVID-19, prospects for our economic growth will remain uncertain. That is why the restoration of the global supply chain is a matter of great urgency for both of us.

I think an essential element in making the global supply chain more resilient is ensuring the movement of business personnel. Thanks to the Fast Track between Korea and Singapore, hundreds of businessmen were able to go on business trips to Singapore without any difficulty. Unfortunately, the Fast Track has been suspended for now. We should put our heads together to explore ways to facilitate essential travel across borders, including resuming the Fast Track, or establishing the air travel bubble, as soon as possible.

Distinguished participants,

Through such efforts, Korea and Singapore have laid the ground for our substantive cooperation. Now is the time to discuss what we can do to further strengthen our partnership, and what concrete actions we can take to build on the foundation we have already laid.

Korea and Singapore are ideal partners for each other in working together for enhancing resilience and innovation in this region. I hope today’s discussion could serve as a meaningful stepping stone in strengthening these coordinated efforts.

Thank you.  /end/