New Singapore envoy to Taiwan strives to enhance relations in post-COVID era

Trade Representative Yip actively seeking new opportunities to expand bilateral ties

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Singapore Trade Representative Yip Wei Kiat.

Singapore Trade Representative Yip Wei Kiat. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Singapore Trade Representative to Taiwan Yip Wei Kiat on Thursday (Sept. 10) told Taiwan News that despite the coronavirus having affected Taiwan-Singapore interactions, the situation is relatively stable and the relationship is thriving to some extent.

Representative Yip was previously the director-general of the Northeast Asia Directorate in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Most recently, he served as Singapore’s ambassador to South Korea.

Yip, who arrived in February, acknowledged that many cultural and cooperative exchanges have been delayed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, he mentioned that in trade and medical cooperation, things have been looking up.

According to Yip, Taiwan’s exported goods to Singapore, including agricultural and meat products, grew 7 percent amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, Singapore’s exported goods to Taiwan, including IT-related and petrochemical products, rose 11 percent.

The two countries have also cooperated on pandemic prevention by maintaining close communication and information exchanges related to vaccine and test kit development. Taiwan has also donated medical supplies to Singapore.

Additionally, negotiations to mutually streamline the quarantine process for aircraft passengers are ongoing, Yip stated. He added that Singapore has already established a reciprocal procedure with China, Brunei, and South Korea to facilitate essential business travel that requires a coronavirus test upon arrival, before proceeding with a controlled itinerary and no further quarantine. He hopes to do the same with Taiwan.

The representative highlighted more than 400,000 Taiwanese visited Singapore last year, and he hoped that similar numbers would be possible again — though it is difficult to say when.

Yip said that he is actively trying to seek new areas for cooperation and expand bilateral ties. He stressed that it is imperative for the two countries to redouble efforts and maintain strong relations in the post-COVID era, given the close history between Taiwan and Singapore.