Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met his Singaporean counterpart, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, on the sidelines of the 29th Ministerial meeting of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh on Thursday. The two Foreign Ministers exchanged views on regional and global issues, reviewed the current trajectory of Pakistan-Singapore bilateral relations, and agreed to ramp up bilateral dialogue and cooperation. As said, the two leaders discussed the potential for bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, while Foreign Minister Zardari admired Singapore’s development model and the lessons it offered to the developing nations including Pakistan.
The Republic of Singapore is a tiny state, with a strong economic outlook along with vast industrial infrastructure, and occupies unique importance in South East Asian community. Singapore lies in the heart of East Asia, while its regional and global connectivity through all weather sea routes has increased its importance many folds. Pakistan and Singapore had always enjoyed friendly relations over the past decades because both countries are members of the Commonwealth Club and have consensus over global issues. The volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Singapore stood at over $ 2.5 billion per year in the recent past. While military ties between the two nations remained at a low par throughout history.
Although, the Gawadar port contract controversy affected bilateral relations of both countries, however, presently nations are working to enhance their bilateral cooperation in political, economic, defense and security as well as science and technology domains. According to reports, both countries worked closely against the COVID-19 pandemic, while several Singaporean firms are interested to Invest in CPEC-related Special Economic Zones (SEZs), digital economy, mining, and agri-food industry in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan is actively working to get a full dialogue partner for the ASEAN forum.
The previous government had endeavored to promote Pakistan’s trade and economic relations with ASEAN nations through Pakistan’s Vision East Asia and Economic Diplomacy initiatives in recent years. Singapore is a developed economy and offers great opportunities for trade and economic cooperation for Pakistan, hence Pakistan should make an optimum effort to forge a long-term and sustainable economic partnership with Singapore in the future.