Singapore’s Lee arrives for Asean Summit
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga—Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrived here on Sunday to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Manila.
Aboard a government plane, Lee landed at the Clark International Airport at about 1 p.m. He was welcomed by Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Lee is set to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and other Asean leaders and its dialogue partners in the next three days in different venues in Manila.
The Philippines is the chair of this year’s Asean Summit, which coincides with the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary.
Lee met Duterte during the 30th Asean Summit in April and during the Filipino leader’s state visit in Singapore in December 2016. Duterte discussed with Singaporean leaders measures on how to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
Lee, son of the late Singaporean leader Lee Kwan Yew, was recently denounced publicly by his younger siblings over the fate of their family home and for allegedly abusing his power.
The public family feud dominated Singapore’s news in June, with his siblings accusing him of wanting to turn their ancestral home into a monument of the Lees to bank on his father’s name for political gains.
The Philippines and Singapore have enjoyed warm bilateral relations. In 1997, the two countries inked the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan, which establishes the framework for bilateral cooperation in areas such as economics, information technology, education, and defense.
Singapore is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner in Asia, next to Japan, China, and the United States. The bilateral trade between the two is estimated at $8.8 billion.
About 180,000 Filipinos also work in Singapore.
One of the founding members of the Asean, Singapore is the richest country in the bloc. It has the highest growth domestic product (GDP) per capita with US$52,960 and foreign direct investments of US$61.6 billion in 2016.
But despite being the top among Asean members in terms of nominal figures, Singapore’s GDP growth rate in 2016 was the second lowest in the region with 1.9 percent, following Brunei Darussalam. The country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry attributed this to slow private consumption and expenditure.
With 3.4 percent of its GDP going to the military, the city-state is the second largest military spender in the region, next to Brunei Darussalam. /cbb
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