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France and Singapore

Bilateral relations

The official visit by Prime Minister, Mr Ayrault, in October 2012 in Singapore helped to establish bilateral relations through a strategic partnership in multiple fields including politics, defence, culture and science. The secretary generals of foreign affairs hold annual political consultations. Political relations are punctuated by regular high-level visits such as the visit by President Tony Tan in May 2015, the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in October 2013 and the Deputy Prime Ministers Shanmugaratnam in July and November 2017 and Teo Chee Hean in March 2018 and the Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in February 2018.

The joint France-Singapore Year of Innovation 2018, announced during the presidential visit to Singapore in March 2016 in a joint declaration by President Hollande and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, aims to enhance scientific and technological partnerships and the cooperation between startup networks and administrations responsible for digital transformation in the two countries. Six priority sectors were set out under this framework: smart and sustainable cities; fintech; health, aging and biotechnologies; aerospace and advanced manufacturing; start-ups and emerging technologies: education and lifelong learning. The Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal, visited Singapore from 21 to 23 January 2018 during the Global Young Scientists Summit for the launch for the Singapore Year of Innovation. Numerous events are planned in Paris and Singapore as part of this year.

Trade with Singapore has increased in 2017 by 7.5% on 2016 to €8.9 billion. This is due to the significant increase in French exports to the City-State (up 10%) to €6.8 billion led by France’s key exports: perfume (up 26%), aerospace deliveries (up 16%), leather goods (up 12%) and agrifood products (up 8%). Singapore is therefore France’s second-largest bilateral trade surplus in 2017 with €4.6 billion (up 15.4%), after Hong Kong (€5.6 billion) but ahead of the United Kingdom (€4.1 billion).

Over 715 French entities are present in Singapore (681 subsidiaries of large companies, medium-sized enterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises and 33 branches and representation offices) and 350 active companies in the fields of business services, housing, leisure and culture, agrifood and new technologies. Numerous manufacturers have founded research and development centres in Singapore including Engie, Airbus, Thales and CMA-CGM. There are nearly 200 French engineer-researchers present in the country.

France and Singapore maintain dense and diverse defence and security relations. The Ministers for Defence meet roughly twice per year (Shangri-La dialogue, Munich Security Conference (MSC)). The high levels of trust in the defence relationship are symbolised by the air squadron which has been permanently stationed in France at Cazaux in the Gironde department for initial training of Singaporean pilots since 1998.

France is the 9th destination for Singaporean students abroad (450 students in 2015/2016). Mobility of students is constantly increasing and the highest number of students come to France under partnerships between institutions. The French institutions located in Singapore (ESSEC Asia-Pacific located on the integrated research hub at Nepal Hill since 2015, INSEAD, EDHEC, Grenoble School of Business, Université Panthéon-Assas, etc.) are the main drivers of attractiveness.

The French community in Singapore has nearly 15,000 members (registered with the consulate).

Updated: 14 June 2018