President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Wednesday. / Yonhap
President Park Geun-hye held a meeting Wednesday with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in hopes of forging stronger bonds of cooperation in the areas of bio-technology and medicine.
It marked the second round of talks between the two leaders in two months, since their last meeting in early October in Brunei on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)+3 Summit.
"Both Korea and Singapore lack natural resources, but they managed to grow economically thanks to outstanding manpower. By now, we share a mission of pursuing a new leap forward based on creation and innovation," Park said.
"Against this backdrop, I think that our future-oriented collaboration will benefit the two countries' development. Based on trust and belief, I hope that we join hands not only in economic areas, but also when it comes to political and security issues."
In response, Lee said he appreciated Park's efforts to generate new growth momentum via a "creative economy," geared toward finding a new growth engine based on convergence between info-tech breakthroughs and other industries.
After the summit, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to beef up their bio-technology and medical alliance under which they will launch a medical technology center and raise $5 million in funding.
Park also asked for Lee's cooperation in supporting Korean companies bidding to win infrastructure construction projects in Singapore.
For example, a total of nine domestic contractors, including Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Samsung Construction and Trade, are interested in a $14.4 billion subway construction contract for the so-called "Thomson Line."
Excluding the Middle East, Singapore has been the largest foreign market for Korean builders.
Park and Lee also talked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new type of trade agreement aimed at tackling not only tariffs but also non-tariff barriers to trade. Singapore is one of the first proponents of the 12-nation treaty, which covers about 40 percent of world trade.
Late last month, Korea also expressed its interest in the framework and is poised to start preliminary negotiations for its participation.
The meeting with Lee was Park's last summit for this year after her inauguration, during which she has tried to focus on Southeast Asian nations rich in natural resources and strong market potential.