France and Singapore
With trade totalling €7.8 billion in 2014, Singapore is our leading trade partner in South-East Asia and our third in Asia (behind China and Japan).
Our bilateral relations with Singapore are characterized mainly by:
- regular, confident, fruitful dialogue, which is almost unparalleled in Asia;
- exemplary security and defence cooperation;
- ties adapted to the requirements of globalization, including in the areas of trade, finance, scientific research and academic training.
Our bilateral relations are excellent and confident, as demonstrated by the official visits of President Tony Tan in May 2015, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the diplomatic relations between our two countries, of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Paris in January 2008, December 2009 and October 2013, and of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr George Yeo, in January 2009.
The official visit of the French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, to Singapore in October 2012, was his first trip outside Europe in this capacity. It was an opportunity to elevate our bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership, signed on 18 October 2012, which was our second in the region, following Indonesia (another strategic partnership was since signed with Vietnam, in September 2013).
The Secretaries-General of the respective Foreign Ministries hold annual consultations, most recently in Paris on 30 September 2015.
- 15 January 2015: visit by the Minister of Finance and Public Accounts, Mr Michel Sapin
- 15-16 October 2014: visit by Mr Philippe Errera, Director of Strategic Affairs at the Ministry of Defence
- 29-30 September 2014: visit by Mr Philippe Varin, Special Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development for the ASEAN
- 19 September 2014: visit by Mr Christian Masset, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
- 14-16 September 2014: visit by the National Assembly Deputies Mr Bui and Mr Guillet, Foreign Affairs Committee on Emerging Countries
- 30 May-1 June 2014: visit by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence, to participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue
- 20-22 April 2014: visit of the President of the Senate, Mr Jean-Pierre Bel
- 31 May-2 June 2013: visit by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence, to participate in the 12ᵗʰ session of the Shangri-La Dialogue. Visit by the Joint Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Admiral Édouard Guillaud
- 18-19 October 2012: official visit by the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Trade and the Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad
- June 2012: visit by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence, to participate in the 11ᵗʰ session of the Shangri-La Dialogue.
- December 2015: Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- September 2015: Mr Chan Yeng-Kit, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence
- May 2015: Mr Tony Tan, President
- September 2014: Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister
- September 2014: Mr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence
- November 2013: Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
- October 2013: official visit by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, accompanied by Ms Grace Fu, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry
- June 2013: Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
- June 2013 (Paris Air Show, Le Bourget): Mr Chan Chun Sing, Second Minister for Defence, and Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Transport
- May 2013: Ms Foong Pheng Ow, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry
- May 2013: Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister
Singapore is our leading trade partner in South-East Asia and our third in Asia. France’s market share in Singapore has grown over the last decade, reaching 2.2% in 2014. France has recorded positive current account balances for several years, with €2.2 billion in 2014, representing our fourth-largest trade surplus worldwide.
Trade between France and Singapore totalled €7.8 billion in 2014. Our imports stand at €2.8 billion, and our exports at €5 billion.
French groups are represented through contracts that are often emblematic, such as SportsHub, which was won by Dragages, Alstom for gas power plants, Veolia for waste processing, Geostock for the storage of hydrocarbons, and Airbus, Safran and Thales for aviation and maintenance.
France’s investment stock in Singapore now exceeds €9.4 billion, representing almost 50% of French investment in the region. Singapore is home to 760 establishments of French businesses, primarily in the sectors of business services, electronics and IT, the mechanical, steel and defence production equipment industry, energy, chemistry and materials. Singaporean investments in France, however, remain very low, and essentially focus on the real estate sector (purchase of the Citadines hotel chain and buildings in the La Défense business district).
Data from BusinessFrance and the Directorate-General of the Treasury.
An average of 93,184 Singaporean tourists have visited France each year since 2011 (2011-2013 average) 160,000 French tourists visited Singapore in 2013 (estimated at 200,000 in 2014). Many pass through to visit neighbouring countries. Atout France decided in 2015 to open an office with a regional representative based in Singapore.
- Cultural cooperation on the website of the French Embassy in Singapore
- Website of the Alliance française in Singapore
Our scientific cooperation is fostered by the priority accorded by Singapore to research and new technologies sectors. It focuses as a priority on biotechnologies, optics and opto-electronics, IT, robotics and applied mathematics. Our bilateral cooperation is growing constantly, with around 130 French researchers based in Singapore, the increasing importance of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)’s regional platform in Singapore which opened in September 2014, the Hubert Curien Partnership “Merlion” which finances joint research projects, the regional ICT-Asia and Bio-Asia programmes networking researchers between France and Asia, and the signing of an agreement between the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the Singaporean National Research Foundation on 30 May 2014 for the co-funding of joint research projects.
The growth of our academic cooperation has continued, with an emphasis on dual diplomas (between French grandes écoles and Singaporean universities), illustrated by the establishment in Singapore of centres of the ESSEC (in May 2015), INSEAD and EDHEC business schools. In 2014, 510 Students from Singapore (15% growth on 2013) came to study in France (business, management and marketing).
France supports Singapore in its ambition to become a regional cultural centre, and provides an ambitious artistic programme focused on the concept of cultural diversity, with key events. A framework agreement was signed in Paris in 2009 by the two Foreign Ministers, initiating cooperation between French and Singaporean museums, amongst other things. The jubilee celebrations of our bilateral relations also create a context conducive to the positioning of French institutions on the Singaporean scene, including in the museums sector. The Pinacothèque De Paris opened its first outpost outside Europe in Singapore in late May. In November 2015, the National Art Gallery, designed by the French architect Jean-François Milou, opened its doors, hosting its first temporary exhibition in 2016 in collaboration with the Pompidou Centre. An Orsay Museum exhibition dedicated to late 19ᵗʰ century art is also being considered for late 2016, as well as an exhibition on Christianity in Asia, which the Louvre and Guimet Museums will contribute to via numerous loans. The great many signatures of bilateral agreements between institutions are strengthening France’s contribution to cultural engineering.
In 2015, France and Singapore decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their diplomatic relations by organizing a Singaporean cultural festival in France (Singapour en France, le festival), which was inaugurated at the Palais de Tokyo in April 2015, while its counterpart, Voilah !, took place in Singapore. French Festival Singapore, was organized by our embassy and inaugurated on 4 May 2015. The Singapore festival in France was organized by the Singaporean National Heritage Board and National Arts Council, along with the Institut français (French Institute), and showcased contemporary Singaporean culture through more than 30 events across France.
Sporting cooperation is also promising, with the opening in June 2014 of SportsHub, a 25-year public-private partnership by Dragages, as well as a protocol signed in 2013 between the Singapore Football Association and the French Football Federation.
Defence cooperation is central to our bilateral relationship. Security is a priority for Singapore, which dedicates 23% of its spending (USD 13.1 billion, or €8.9 billion) to it – a 5.7% rise on 2014. Singapore’s strategic position at the opening of the Strait of Malacca makes it a key military and industrial partner in a region that is traditionally under American influence.
Our defence relations are excellent, and focused around a strategy dialogue organized by the Strategic Affairs Delegation, military cooperation led by the Armed Forces Joint Chief of Staff, and an armament committee organized by the Directorate-General for Armament.
In 2014, the French Minister of Defence visited Singapore for the third year in a row in order to take part in the Shangri-La Dialogue on security issues in Asia.
An air squadron has been stationed permanently in Cazaux (Gironde Department, France) for initial pilot training since 1999. The Air Force and Navy regularly participate in joint exercises. French battleships regularly stop in Singapore.
In 2009, France posted a liaison officer to the Singaporean Navy’s Information Fusion Centre (IFC), a key centre for regional maritime security; another is posted to the Regional HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) Coordination Centre, which was opened in Singapore on 12 December 2014.