France's Hollande looks to strengthen ties with Singapore

French president Francois Hollande is on a two-day state visit to Singapore, which is the first state visit by a sitting president of France.

He also said his ministry would hold continuous engagements with French companies in Malaysia.

Four more agreements were also inked at the Istana.

This is the second presidential-level visit from France to Malaysia after President Jacques Chirac's state visit in July 2003.

The year 2018 will also be the France-Singapore Year of Innovation, under the joint declaration of innovation.

The document mentions they both noted the fact that the considerable synergies and complementarities between the two countries in the area of innovation could be utilized for mutual benefit and for the benefit of the world.

In a joint declaration, President Hollande and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, said, both the nations have a lot to learn from each other's experience and approach towards bolstering innovation. For example, Singapore will soon be part of the "La French Tech" initiative, a worldwide network of French technology entrepreneurs, investors and executives which has been established in major global cities to facilitate innovative partnerships and the internationalisation of French tech start-ups.

Singapore's president, Tony Tan, said that France was a "special friend", noting that it was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Singapore after its independence in 1965. "It is our ability to create; it is also our spirit of entrepreneurship (that) is going to give us a relative advantage in (a globalised world)".

Singapore must stay open to the world amid heightened uncertainty globally and as technological disruptions threaten to upend a range of industries, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

"This is not an option for Singapore".

"Like France, we remain committed to worldwide cooperation and growing trade, investment, R&D, defence and educational relationships with other countries, so that we can tap on each other's strengths to create a better future for our people".

  • Leroy Wright