PM Lee visiting France and Poland

PM Lee visiting France and Poland
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (L), on Monday, 21 January 2008, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France.

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will seek support from the leaders of France and Poland for the early ratification of a landmark free trade pact when he makes an official visit to the two countries from Sunday to Friday.

He will also discuss ways to strengthen bilateral ties.

On his agenda is the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, whose legal text was recently initialled by both sides. It will benefit consumers and the Singapore economy. Shoppers, for example, will find a wider variety of European goods in Singapore while businesses will find it easier to trade with Europe.

Mr Lee, who is in Paris till Wednesday, is making his third official visit to France. He will meet President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, President of the Senate Jean-Pierre Bel and other leaders.

He will attend a business forum organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Movement of the Enterprises of France, and meet French businessmen and academics, as well as Singaporeans living in France.

Last October, Singapore and France elevated their relationship to a strategic partnership. Mr Lee and Mr Ayrault, who was visiting Singapore then, signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership to further broaden ties in all areas.

Mr Benjamin Dubertret, the French Ambassador to Singapore, told The Sunday Times that the partnership was extremely valuable to France.

On Wednesday, Mr Lee will fly to Warsaw for his first official visit to Poland. He will meet President Bronislaw Komorowski, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and leaders of the lower and upper houses of the Polish Parliament. Mr Tusk visited Singapore last November.

Mr Waldemar Dubaniowski, the Polish Ambassador to Singapore, said ties between Singapore and Poland - Europe's sixth biggest economy - have been growing on various fronts, and the visit will build on this.

In Warsaw, Mr Lee will attend a business forum. He will also visit the city of Gdansk on the Baltic coast and the Deepwater Container Terminal there.

He will be accompanied by Mrs Lee. The delegation includes Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, who will speak at a business seminar, and Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

A business delegation will be led by SBF chairman Tony Chew.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is acting Prime Minister from Oct 27 to Nov 2.

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