SINGAPORE, September 26 (Itar-Tass) — Singapore and Russia strengthen trade and economic relations, Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said.
Speaking at the Russian-Singaporean Business Forum on Monday, Lim Hng Kiang said last year trade turnover between the two countries reached over four billion U.S. dollars.
The intensification of relations facilitates air service between the two countries, the Singaporean minister said. Apart from daily flights by Singapore Airlines, Transaero also makes flights by this route. Vladivostok Avia also opens air service shortly, the minister said.
He noted that contacts were strengthening with Russia’s Far East. “Singaporean companies step up their activities throughout Russia, and not only in the cities – in Moscow and St. Petersburg,” Lim Hng Kiang said.
He cited the example of LUKoil and Gazprom that opened their offices in Singapore. The minister urged Russian businessmen to continue “to turn their faces to Singapore”. He stressed that Singapore had a strategic location in the Asian region, a firm economic base and other advantages for business and investment cooperation.
Speaking at the forum, Russian Sberbank CEO German Gref said the world economy “is going through hard times”.
The global economic growth forecast “is extremely pessimistic”, he said.
Much will depend on the situation in China, the Sberbank CEO said. At the same time, he noted that if oil prices were within 80-90 U.S. dollars per barrel, the economic growth in Russia would reach 4-5 percent.
The business forum involved Russian and Singaporean officials, and businessmen of both countries, including from CIS and Asian countries. This year the meeting is also attended by chairman of the board of directors and CEO of the Troika Dialog Group Ruben Vardanian, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and Singaporean founding father Lee Kuan Yew.
Gref also said a new Russian government would have to continue implementing unpopular reforms.
The cabinet, which will be formed in Russia following the elections, will have to implement reforms, where many of them will be unpopular, he said. For example, he explained, Russia will have to extend retirement age.
Gref also invited Russia’s regional leaders to take part in the forum in Singapore. “Singapore is organising a special session for governors, in order to share positive experiences in management,” he said. “I believe, Singapore will be as welcoming all the regions as it welcomes Tatarstan.”
Minnikhanov said Tatarstan was ready to support comprehensively foreign investors and to guarantee safety of their investments.
“We will be happy to see you in Kazan and to present to you our opportunities in more detail,” he said addressing Asian investors, who participated in the forum in Singapore.
Deputy Head of Tatarstan Iskander Muflikhanov presented the republic’s economic potential. He stressed that Tatarstan is a most attractive region of Russia for investments. The republic has a legal base for attracting investments, it has a well-developed infrastructure, Muflikhanov said.
Tatarstan’s delegations had meetings with potential investors – managers of leading companies from Singapore and other Asian countries. The businesses were especially interested in circulation of capital in Russia and in any limitations on a share of foreign companies in Russian enterprises. Minnikhanov explained that Russia does not have any special conditions for circulation of foreign capital and that shares of foreign companies are unlimited.