S'pore looks forward to growing relationship with France: Lawrence Wong at Temasek Paris office opening

DPM Wong is in Europe in his current capacity for the first time.

Fiona Tan | April 11, 2024, 05:15 PM



Temasek, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore, opened its office in Paris, France on Apr. 10, 2024.

This is Temasek's third office in Europe.

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan were at the reception at the Le Petit Palais art museum celebrating the opening of Temasek's office in Paris.

France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance, Industrial and Digital Sovereignty Bruno Le Maire and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also attended the reception along with over 200 guests and partners from Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Temasek's 50th anniversary

In his speech at the reception, Wong said the event not only marked the opening of Temasek's new office in Paris, but also the organisation's 50th anniversary.

Temasek, which was incepted in 1974, now has 13 offices across the globe.

"50 years may not seem like a very long time for organisations and institutions in France, where you count your milestones in centuries," Wong remarked.

However, it is a major milestone, Wong said, especially in the context of Singapore, where the organisation was born and is headquartered, which will soon celebrate its 59th year of independence, despite its small size and lack of resources.

A world with challenges but also opportunities

Despite the current challenges around the world, such as the conflicts in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Wong said there are still opportunities to be seized.

He added that "now, more than ever, we must find ways to strengthen connections between different countries and different regions of the world".

This includes Europe, which is a key part of the global economy and the world’s largest trading bloc, with many French and European companies at the forefront of innovation, as well as regions in the Middle East and Africa.

There also opportunities to be seized in China, India and Southeast Asia, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which has a combined population of over 670 million and a diverse range of economies at different stages of development.

Wong said while Asean currently operates in a "looser configuration compared to the EU (European Union)", members are taking steps to enhance their integration so that they can, as a whole, offer more opportunities for businesses and investors.

Singapore-France relations

Wong then zoned in on Singapore, specifically its role connecting Southeast Asia to the world from within.

"We are at the heart of this dynamic Asian story. Our value proposition is to be a connector and a hub for Asia to the world and for the world to Asia.

We believe this role becomes more important in an increasingly fragmented world. That is why we are redoubling our efforts to deepen cooperation with like-minded partners like France."

Wong said bilateral relations between Singapore and France is comprehensive and multi-faceted — covering many areas such as energy, defence, innovation, culture, and education — and deepening with each passing year.

He added: "It is a relationship that has been built not just from the top down, but also from the bottom up because our people-to-people ties are very strong."

Noting that both countries will mark the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties in 2025, Wong said Singapore wants to add more strength and substance to their happy relationship with France, and work closely together as reliable and trusted partners.

Singapore-France relations

Besides France, Wong also visited Germany as part of his first visit to Europe in his current capacity.

He arrived in Paris after spending a few days in Berlin, where he met with Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck.

At the end of his Germany visit, Wong said he and Scholz agreed to upgrading bilateral relations to a strategic partnership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Apr. 9.

This makes Germany the second country in the EU, after France, to have a strategic partnership with Singapore.

"We look forward to relations continuing on an upward trajectory, and growing even stronger in the years to come!" he said in a Facebook post.

Wong will conclude his Europe visit on Apr. 13.

@lawrencewongst Onwards for a visit to #Berlin 🇩🇪 and #Paris 🇫🇷. Looking forward to fruitful and productive discussions over the next few days, as we build upon the warm and longstanding relations that #Singapore ♬ original sound - Lawrence Wong

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Top image from Ministry of Communications and Information