Singapore president on state visit to PH to mark 50th year of diplomatic ties

  • Sep 09, 2019
  • Inquirer News

MANILA, Philippines — Singaporean President Halimah Yacob is on a state visit to the Philippines to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries.

She landed in Manila Sunday to a ceremonial welcome by an honor guard.

During the visit, she will call on and be hosted to a state banquet by President Rodrigo Duterte.

She will also deliver the opening remarks at the 14th Philippines-Singapore Business Council meeting and witness the opening of the Podium Office Tower, a joint project between Keppel Land and SM Group, a Philippine conglomerate. The project is a mixed-use building with retail and office spaces.

Madam Halimah will also visit a lifestyle and food pop-up organized by Enterprise Singapore.

The pop-up aims to help Singapore companies with their internationalisation plans.

Singapore was the Philippines’ second-largest foreign investor after China and top Asean investor last year, with investments amounting to $560 million.

The Philippines was also Singapore’s 14th-largest trading partner last year.

Bilateral trade increased 18.6 per cent year on year from 2017 to last year, amounting to $21.2 billion.

Madam Halimah will be hosted to dinner by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in Davao City and visit the Philippine Eagle Centre there, a conservation site for the critically endangered Philippine eagles.

Singapore is host to a pair of such eagles which arrived in June this year, under a 10-year breeding loan agreement.

Madam Halimah will also engage in a dialogue with young people to share with them Singapore’s experience in fostering interfaith harmony at the Ateneo de Davao University’s Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia.

She will be accompanied on the five-day state visit by her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee; Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education; Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry; and Members of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa, Sitoh Yih Pin and Cheng Li Hui, together with officials from the President’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Finance.

A business delegation led by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) will also visit the Philippines in conjunction with the state visit, as well as to strengthen business relations and explore emerging investment opportunities.

The delegation is led by SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng and comprises 20 business leaders from 15 Singapore companies across sectors such as marine shipyard, utilities, logistics, shipping, sustainable urban development, manufacturing, retail, banking and financial services, engineering and construction, general trading and professional services.

Mr Teo said: “With strong growth and a young, educated workforce that is proficient in English, the Philippines remains an attractive investment destination for our companies. Through this mission, we hope to further cement the business ties between Singapore and the Philippines and also to encourage more businesses from the Philippines to expand into Singapore.”

During Madam Halimah’s absence, Mr Eddie Teo, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, will exercise the functions of the Office of the President.