Thursday, 6 August 2015

US, Singapore reaffirm close ties on Kerry's first official visit here

The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2015

United States Secretary of State John Kerry, making his first official visit to Singapore, called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) statement said both sides reaffirmed the close and multifaceted bilateral ties between Singapore and the US.

PM Lee welcomed the US' continued commitment to engage Asia and emphasised the significance of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a strong signal of this commitment, MFA added.

At a breakfast meeting that Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam hosted for Mr Kerry, they took stock of the excellent bilateral relationship and reiterated both countries' commitment to broaden and deepen bilateral cooperation, the MFA statement said.

They also discussed key regional and global developments and ways to enhance the US' engagement of Asia. In this regard, Mr Shanmugam underscored the TPP's strategic importance in anchoring the US' presence in Asia.

The ministry said Mr Shanmugam and Mr Kerry also stressed the importance of all parties adhering to international law to manage the South China Sea disputes and maintain regional stability.

They signed a memorandum of understanding renewing the Singapore-US Third Country Training Programme (TCTP), which provides technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries, in particular ASEAN member states. The TCTP is a concrete example of the close partnership between Singapore and the US to enhance the US' engagement of Asia.

In the afternoon, Mr Kerry delivered a speech at the Singapore Management University before leaving Singapore.

He will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur this week.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signs a memorandum of understanding focused on joint capacity-building efforts with...
Posted by U.S. Department of State on Monday, August 3, 2015

US to spur innovation, entrepreneurship in Asia
By Chong Koh Ping, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience here yesterday that the United States will launch a roadshow across the region to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mr Kerry said senior economic officials and chief innovation and technology officers from leading companies will show young people how to grow their businesses.

They will also help government officials create a favourable environment for start-ups and innovation.

Mr Kerry noted that "commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship" is a comparative advantage that both Singapore and the US enjoy and one he wants the rest of Asia to learn from.

He told the gathering of about 260 government officials, diplomats and Singapore Management University (SMU) students that trade, investment, the clean energy revolution, growing the middle class and connecting them to the global market are the key themes underscoring the prosperity shared by the US and countries in the Asia-Pacific.

"This is a moment of exceptional opportunity for the Asia-Pacific. We're nearing the completion of a historic Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on trade... investing at unprecedented levels and promoting high standards when it comes to business practices," said Mr Kerry. "We're doubling down on clean energy and creating the right kind of growth... working together to upgrade education and grow the middle class."

Mr Kerry also said that the US is committed to finding innovative ways to finance modern, sustainable infrastructure in the region through new loan programmes at the World Bank and Asian Development Bank and by mobilising the resources and sophistication of US capital markets.

He noted that China's establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is an effort to improve the region's infrastructure and create good jobs.

"We support that effort but we want that effort to be transparent and be accountable in the same ways that other international finance organisations are," he said, adding that, while this could complement existing efforts, it should "meet the same high standards".

Borrowing from a remark that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew made in his first official visit to the US in October 1967, Mr Kerry said that the path to shared prosperity between the US and the region requires a combination of "patience and prudence, resolution and restraint".

The event at SMU was organised by the US Embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

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