President Halimah thanks German firms for contributing to Singapore
Economic ties between Singapore and Germany go as far back as the 1840s, when Hamburg native Valentin Lorenz-Meyer set up Behn, Meyer & Co, the first German trading company in Singapore, and they continue to flourish, President Halimah Yacob said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a state banquet hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at his official residence, Madam Halimah noted that Valentin's great-great grandson Dirk - who was present - is not only a member of the board of present-day Behn Meyer Holding, but also Singapore's honorary consul-general in Hamburg. So was his late father, Mr Dieter Lorenz-Meyer.
"German investors have long made meaningful contributions to Singapore," said Madam Halimah, who is on a five-day state visit.
She noted that Siemens established a Technical Bureau in Singapore as early as 1908, and Rollei set up a camera factory in 1971.
"Indeed, one of the objectives of my visit is to thank German companies for their many important contributions to Singapore's development and their integral role in fostering excellent economic ties between Singapore and Germany," she added.
Germany is Singapore's largest European Union trading partner, making up a fifth of the Republic's total trade with the EU. More than 1,800 German companies are based in Singapore, with German direct investments standing at €14.3 billion (S$21.6 billion).
And the recent EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will further deepen these considerable ties, said Madam Halimah.
The FTA, as well as both countries' engagement in climate policy, symbolises their commitment to openness and multilateralism and the potential of close relations, noted Dr Steinmeier in his speech.
Dr Steinmeier, who conferred the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on Singaporean conductor Wong Kah Chun at the banquet, lauded Singapore as a young country that has undergone an impressive transformation and "shows what human ambition and inventiveness can achieve".
"The increasing number of Germans heading off for Singapore nowadays are not only tourists in search of the 'Crazy Rich Asians' they read about in Kevin Kwan's novel," he said.
"Rather, they go because they want to research or study at one of your renowned universities... they want to do business, they want to use Singapore as a hub to access the entire region."
Mr Wong, who has been chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra since last year, was recognised for his significant role in bridging the cultures of their two countries through music.
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