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Qatar, Singapore hold ‘constructive’ talks during President Yacob’s last overseas trip

In May, Yacob announced that she will not be running for a second term in Singapore’s upcoming elections.

Qatar and Singapore held “constructive talks” in Doha to develop bilateral relations, the Gulf state’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Sheikh Tamim’s statement came during Singaporean President Halimah Yacob’s visit to Qatar, her last trip abroad as head of state. 

أجريت اليوم مباحثات بناءة مع رئيسة جمهورية سنغافورة حليمة يعقوب، حول سبل تطوير العلاقات المتينة بين قطر وسنغافورة في مختلف المجالات، كما تبادلنا وجهات النظر حول آخر التطورات الإقليمية والدولية التي تهم بلدينا الصديقين.

— تميم بن حمد (@TamimBinHamad) June 21, 2023

“Today, I held constructive discussions with the President of the Republic of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, on ways to develop the strong relations between Qatar and Singapore in various fields. We also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments of concern to our two friendly countries,” Sheikh Tamim said.

President Yacob and Amir Tamim witnessed the signing of a number of memoranda of understanding in Doha that covered various sectors, including food security, energy, and cyber security. 

Another agreement entailed the implementation of training programmes for the Asia-Middle East Dialogue States at the Qatar-based Regional Training Centre for Public Administration.

The outgoing president also met with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

“During the meeting, they discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and ways to support and develop them,” read a statement by Qatar’s foreign ministry on the meeting.

In May, Yacob announced she will not be running for a second term in Singapore’s upcoming elections, setting 13 September as the end of her stint as the country’s first female president.

Qatar-Singapore ties

Qatar and Singapore’s ties date back to 1984.

Singapore opened its embassy in Doha in 2006, the same year in which the two countries established the Qatar – Singapore High Level Joint Committee. Then in 2007, the Gulf state opened its embassy in Singapore.

According to Qatar’s news agency (QNA), the establishment of the committee resulted in the signing of more than 28 agreements between Doha and Singapore.

Sheikh Tamim’s visit to Singapore in 2017 represented one of the key developments in relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile in October last year, the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) signed a MOU with Enterprise Singapore in a bid to promote mutual investments.

According to QNA, Qatar is Singapore’s third-largest trading partner in the Middle East, whereas Singapore was Doha’s sixth-top trading partner in 2020.

In 2021 alone, Singapore’s exports to Qatar amounted to $692 million, which included jewellery, refined petroleum, and gas turbines, per data published by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

During the same year, Qatar’s exports to Singapore amounted to $5.88 billion, which included crude petroleum, petroleum gas, and refined petroleum, the OEC added.

Over the span of 26 years, Singapore’s exports to Qatar saw an annual increase of 13.3%, whereas the same period saw a 12.9% annual increase in Doha’s exports to Singapore.

In 2021, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) established an advisory subsidiary in Singapore as it expanded its investment opportunities in Asia.