UK-Singapore Unlimited Scope for Future Cooperation

British High Commissioner HE Antony Phillipson recently spoke to The Straits Times on bilateral cooperation and growth. 


This interview was originally published in The Straits Times "British Chamber Awards" Supplement on October 03, 2014.

The Brit Cham has been around for 60 years now. That is even before Singapore celebrates its 50th birthday. Please give your thoughts on the long-standing ties that Singapore has had with Britain in trade and other dimensions.


The relationship between Singapore and the UK is based on a shared heritage stretching back almost 200 years. While a close economic and business partnership has been a constant feature throughout that time, we also have many common security and defence interests that we can and do pursue together, including through the Five Power Defence Arrangements. There are also extensive people-to-people links that have developed over the decades, not least as a result of the huge numbers of Singaporean students who go to the UK each year.


In your mind, what are the key non-trade benefits of the strong trade ties between the two countries?

It is often said that Singapore and the UK are key hubs for each other in their respective regions. The basis of that linkage may be the economic and business ties that have developed over the years, but they also sustain vital partnerships in areas such as education, science, innovation and research, as well as a political commitment to working together in all areas where we can make a difference. I have often said in my time here as High Commissioner that the key to the future partnership between the UK and Singapore is to make sure that we continue to develop the agenda for cooperation between us, building on the platform of what has gone before. These are the key themes that we will be celebrating in a few weeks during President Tony Tan’s state visit to the UK.


Moving forward, are there specific areas that the two countries could work on? What further social and international benefits do you see down the road for the two countries?


Frankly, I think there is almost unlimited scope for future cooperation. We are both countries that rely on a world where trade and investment can flow freely, and where international rules are both developed to that end and adhered to. We are both looking to develop a knowledge-based economy that will provide for the future prosperity of all our people. The challenge is to define the agenda and develop the necessary partnerships between us and with others to achieve it. In the last few years, we have seen a step change in high-level engagement between us, both here in Singapore and in the UK, which is all part of ensuring that we make the most of what each of us can bring to the relationship.


What roles do you think the British Chamber of Commerce can play — besides fostering trade —to further strengthen ties between the two countries?


The fact that the British Chamber is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, one year before the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, is testament both to the Chamber’s long-standing and enormous contribution that it has made to the UK/Singapore relationship. That is why we at the High Commission have been so pleased to help mark this important milestone at a number of events this year. The support that they can offer to companies, either new to Singapore or well established, is vital to ensuring that our economic and business ties continue to strengthen, and that they will remain the bedrock of the broader relationship between us for the next 60 years.