Economic ties between Singapore and the Slovak Republic should get a boost from a major trade pact between the European Union and Singapore, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Monday.
Thanking his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovic for his country's "very strong support" for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Dr Tan said: "This is extremely valuable to us as well as to Asia and Europe, because it will stimulate trade between our two regions and also, I am confident, between Slovakia and Singapore."
Both countries have agreed to work for early ratification of the trade pact, which is expected to save Singapore and EU companies over €290 million (S$488 million) a year in business costs.
Dr Gasparovic noted that with Slovakia's good location in the centre of Europe, the country has potential as a business hub and for logistics parks.
Trade between his country and Singapore is now worth about $107.5 million.
The two heads of state gave a joint press statement after a private meeting, following a ceremonial welcome Dr Tan received at the presidential palace.
His trip coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Slovak Republic's independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Besides economics, the countries could expand people-to-people ties and cultural collaboration, said Dr Tan.
Citing the first Slovak Film Festival in Singapore in April, he hoped there would be more such events for both nations to be better acquainted with each other.
In the areas of education and research, Dr Gasparovic said they had agreed to explore the potential of student exchanges between their universities, while Dr Tan cited advanced materials science, cancer research and immunobiology as potential areas for collaboration between their scientists.
Dr Tan also invited Dr Gasparovic to visit Singapore and he has accepted.
The President left Bratislava for Singapore yesterday evening, concluding a seven-day state visit to Hungary and Slovakia.
The business delegation that accompanied him, however, stayed on for a business forum in the capital today.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.