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Israel-Singapore talks focus on boosting trade

Bilateral commerce is on the rise.

Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Singapore, Aug. 21, 2023. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Economy.
Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Singapore, Aug. 21, 2023. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Economy.

Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat met with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in Singapore on Monday to discuss bilateral relations and trade.

Barkat is leading a business delegation to the Southeast Asian country.

Invited to pay a reciprocal visit, Heng told Barkat he intends to visit Israel by the end of 2023. Heng also serves as the coordinating minister for strategic economic affairs.

The main topics of discussion were technological innovation; support for entrepreneurship; research and development; medical research; solutions in the field of water; tourism; and education.

Following their meeting, the two men held a joint meeting with the businessmen in Barkat’s delegation.

“Israeli innovation is highly valued in Singapore,” Barkat said. “I welcome the opportunity to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Swee Kat Heng and discuss with him ways to expand the business potential for Israeli companies in Singapore and for Singaporean companies in Israel, with the aim of continuing to develop the economic relations between the countries.”

Trade between Israel and Singapore is on the rise, totaling about $3.8 billion in 2022, up some 67% compared to 2021. Israeli physical exports totaled $1.16 billion, with machinery accounting for 51% followed by optical, medical and other equipment (17%) and transportation products (16%).

Israeli physical imports from Singapore were valued at about $2.1 billion mostly transportation products (60%) and machinery.

There is also trade in services, with Israel importing about $150 million’s worth from Singapore, which included sales and marketing (37%) and computing services (27%), while Israel exported services amounting to $580 million, which included research and development (32%), and computing (19%).

Israel and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1969.

The visit follows Barkat’s visit to Vietnam, which signed a free-trade agreement with Israel in July. On Wednesday, Barkat and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyễn Hồng Diên signed an agreement for direct flights between Hanoi and Tel Aviv, which are due to begin in October.

Einat Halevy Levin, president of the Israel-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, said in July that a free trade agreement would position Vietnam as a hub for Israeli business opportunities in Southeast Asia.

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