Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday invited more investments from Singapore, describing the city-state as India's “valued partner” in implementing its ambitious plans for infrastructure development, which requires $1 trillion dollars over five years.
Dr. Singh, who is here on a two-day visit, made the pitch while holding talks with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on ways to boost the ties in a wide range of areas, including security and defence cooperation.
Mr. Lee extended his country's support to India's bid for permanent membership of an expanded United Nations Security Council.
“Our government places the highest priority on our relations with Singapore. Ours is a partnership that stands on the foundation of shared values of pluralism, secularism and democracy, and convergence of our perspectives on regional and international issues,” Dr. Singh said at a luncheon hosted by Mr. Lee.
“Singapore has emerged as a valued partner for our ambitious plans for infrastructure development. It is India's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN,” he said. “We welcome greater investment and technology … from Singapore.”
Dr. Singh discussed investment issues with Mr. Lee before the lunch, highlighting how India required greater funds to develop its infrastructure and other sectors.
Singapore's direct investment in India was the second largest, with the cumulative investment being $14 billion, Indian High Commissioner T.C.A. Raghavan said.
Sources said India wanted Singapore's investment raised substantially, given that its investments in China were eight times more. The bilateral trade stood at $17 billion last year, with Indian exports accounting for $10 billion.
On the eve of Dr. Singh's visit, India and Singapore concluded two Memoranda of Understanding for a cultural exchange programme and training of Indian civil servants in urban development in Singapore.
Dr. Singh recalled that it was the opening of India's relations with Singapore in the 1990s that led to a strategic shift in India's foreign and economic policies and that now evolved into the country's ‘Look East' policy. “Singapore opened new horizons for India,” he said.
He noted that it was during Mr. Lee's visit to India in 2005 that the two countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. “That agreement has led to a qualitative upgrade of our trade and investment relations with Singapore.”
Singapore's rapid transformation and economic growth model “is a beacon of hope in the uncertain world we live in today. You serve as an example not only for Asia but for the world at large,” he said. Singapore's investments in human resources, education and infrastructure were examples worthy of emulation.
Inviting Mr. Lee to India next year, Dr. Singh said: “This will give you an opportunity to see for yourself the developments that have taken place in India in the last several years, and the manner in which Singapore has contributed to India's progress.”
Dr. Singh noted that the relations also encompassed political, security and defence cooperation.