Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was "happy" that Singapore's Covid-19 certificate is now recognised as equivalent to the European Union's (EU) certificate.
PM Lee was speaking at a plenary session on Nov. 26, during the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit held virtually from Nov. 25 to 26.
ASEM is a forum that brings together Asean and European Union member states, as well as other countries, such as the UK and Russia, for dialogue.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of ASEM since its inception in 1996.
ASEM leaders exchanged views on current and emerging international and regional issues, as well as discussed strengthening ASEM’s role in promoting multilateralism Covid-19 pandemic.
Travel between Singapore and EU made easier now
PM Lee said that Singapore is working with partners to develop interoperable digital solutions, such as digital health certificates, to facilitate more seamless and safe travel by vaccinated individuals.
Starting from Nov. 25, Covid-19 certificates issued by Singapore are now recognised as the equivalent of the EU's Digital Covid Certificate, effectively making travel between Singapore and the EU easier.
The European Commission announced that those with a Singapore Covid-19 certificate will be able to use it under the same conditions as those holding the EU's certificate to prove their Covid-19 vaccination status.
S'pore reconnecting to the world
PM Lee added that Singapore and its partners are taking steps to reconnect with the rest of the world.
"We are reopening our borders and restoring international travel and cross-border activities safely, based on scientific data," PM Lee said.
In his intervention, PM Lee highlighted that Singapore has announced Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) with 27 countries, many of them ASEM partners.
"We hope they will prove a useful model for countries in Asia and Europe to reopen safely to one another, and progressively resume quarantine-free cross-border travel," PM Lee added.
Support for global initiative to combat Covid-19
Other than opening up Singapore's borders to restore international travel, PM Lee also shared that he was glad that many countries have demonstrated support for global initiatives to combat the pandemic, such as the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative.
He said that COVAX has played an "invaluable role in improving access to vaccines".
"As Co-Chair of the Friends of the COVAX Facility, Singapore is strongly committed to vaccine multilateralism, and fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for all countries," PM Lee added.
He highlighted that Singapore is ramping up its cold chain logistics services and expanding our vaccine manufacturing capabilities, with three new vaccine production facilities in the pipeline.
PM Lee also said that Singapore has donated over 122,000 doses of the vaccines procured under COVAX to its neighbours, and will also donate its allocation of the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund to other member states.
Singapore has also worked with the International Monetary Fund to support other nations in managing the impact of the pandemic, he said.
Covid-19 "practically impossible" to eradicate
Nonetheless, even with high vaccination rates and other measures, PM Lee said it would be "very difficult, practically impossible" to fully eradicate Covid-19.
He noted that some parts of the world are starting to experience the impact of an autumn wave of infections, affecting healthcare systems even where vaccination rates are relatively high.
"Countries will therefore need to learn to live with Covid in a safe and sustainable manner," he said.
Hence, in his speech, he said that ASEM partners are well-positioned to build collective resilience to overcome the social and economic impact of the pandemic.
According to him, both Singapore and ASEM partners can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise, both in the public and private spheres.
He also said that ASEM partners should also work closely to fully restore supply chains, and reopen international travel in a safe manner.
Covid-19 accelerated adoption of digital transformation
In his intervention, PM Lee also urged ASEM partners to look ahead to seize opportunities in new growth areas, such as the digital economy.
He said that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation in business and society.
"We should build on this momentum and strengthen integration and cooperation, to develop a sustainable and digitally inclusive global community," PM Lee added.
In addition to that, PM Lee also said that ASEM partners should also strengthen their cyber resilience.
"I am confident that ASEM partners will push on and work together to pave the way towards an even more resilient and interconnected ASEM," he said.
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