Singapore: Singapore had opened new horizons for India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Sunday and recalled that it was New Delhi's engagement with Singapore that led to a strategic shift and evolved into the 'Look East' policy.

Manmohan Singh, who has been stressing on India's engagement with the region and came here on his first bilateral visit as Prime Minister on Saturday, said that the city state had contributed to the country's progress.

Addressing a gathering at a lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Manmohan Singh said: "It was the opening of our relations with Singapore which led to a strategic shift in India's foreign and economic policies and which today have evolved into our 'Look East' policy. Singapore opened new horizons for India."

The Prime Minister, who reached here from Bali where he attended the India-ASEAN and East Asia Summits, said that it was during Lee Hsien's visit in 2005 that the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed, a first for New Delhi.

Inviting his Singaporean counterpart to come to India to see the manner in which it had contributed to the country's progress, Manmohan Singh said: "That Agreement has led to a qualitative upgradation of our trade and investment relations with Singapore."

"Ours is a partnership that stands on the foundation of shared values of pluralism, secularism and democracy, and convergence of our perspectives on regional and international issues."

"Singapore's rapid transformation and economic growth model is a beacon of hope in the uncertain world we live in today. You serve as an example not only for Asia but for the world at large,"

Manmohan Singh said about island nation, which is India's largest trade and investment partner in the ASEAN region.

Trade turnover between the two countries is on an upward trajectory and is expected to go up from USD 17 billion in 2010-11 to USD 20 billion in the next year. Singapore is also India's largest FDI investor because of CECA.

Manmohan Singh, who last visited Singapore in 2007 for the ASEAN summit, also pushed for greater investment and technology flows from Singapore.

"Our relations also encompass political, security and defence cooperation. We value our engagement with Singapore in these areas."

Referring to people to people exchanges, tourism and the revolution in connectivity, he noted that 11 Indian cities are directly connected by air to Singapore.

According to Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan, there are about 40-45 flights a day from India to Singapore.
The Prime Minister made a specific reference to the "warm welcome" that thousands of Indians working and studying in Singapore had received.

An estimated 3,800 "Indian" companies have registered their presence here.

Manmohan Singh also met President Tony Tan, former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and held discussions aimed at maintaining the high level dialogue with the country.

In the run-up to his brief visit, India and Singapore had signed two memorandums of understanding (MoU) - one on cultural exchange and the other on training of civil servants.

The last bilateral visit here by an Indian Prime Minister was by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The Singapore Prime Minister had visited India in 2005.

Manmohan holds talk with Singapore PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday invited greater investments from Singapore, describing the city-state as a "valued partner" for India's ambitious plans for infrastructure development which requires about one trillion dollars over five years.

Singh, who is here on a two-day visit, made the strong pitch for investments as he held talks with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on ways to boost the ties in a wide range of areas, including security and defence cooperation.
    
Lee extended his country's support to India's permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council.
    
"Our government places the highest priority on our relations with Singapore. Ours is a partnership that stands on the foundation of shared values of pluralism, secularism and democracy, and convergence of our perspectives on regional and international issues," Singh said at a luncheon hosted by Lee.
    
"Singapore has emerged as a valued partner for our ambitious plans for infrastructure development. It is India's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN," he said, adding "We welcome greater investment and technology flows from Singapore."
    
Singh discussed the issue of investments during his talks with Lee prior to the lunch, highlighting how India requires greater funds to develop its infrastructure and other sectors.

The government has estimated that USD one trillion would be required only for infrastructure development over a five-year period.
    
Singapore's foreign direct investment in India is the second largest with the cumulative FDI being USD 14 billion, India's High Commissioner here T C A Raghavan said.
    
Sources said India wants Singapore's FDI to be raised substantially considering the fact that its investments in China is eight times more.
    
The bilateral trade stood at USD 17 billion last year with Indian exports accounting for about USD 10 billion.
    
A Singaporean firm is already engaged in a collaboration with a company of Andhra Pradesh in a 1,000 MW thermal power plant in the Indian state.
    
On the eve of Singh's visit here, India and Singapore concluded two MoUs for cultural exchange programme and training of Indian civil servants in urban development in Singapore.
    
Singh recalled that it was the opening of India's relations with Singapore in 1990s which led to a strategic shift in India's foreign and economic policies and which today have evolved into the country's 'Look East' policy.
    
"Singapore opened new horizons for India," he said and added that India regards the Singapore Prime Minister as "an ardent advocate and supporter of our strong partnership".

Singh, who was instrumental in pushing the bilateral relations after he became the Prime Minister, noted that it was during Lee's visit to India in 2005 that the two countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
    
"That Agreement has led to a qualitative upgradation of our trade and investment relations with Singapore," he said.
    
Singh said Singapore's rapid transformation and economic growth model is "a beacon of hope in the uncertain world we live in today. You serve as an example not only for Asia but for the world at large."
    
Singapore's investments in human resources, education and infrastructure are examples worthy of emulation, he said.
    
Inviting Lee to India next year, Singh said, "this will give you an opportunity to see for yourself the developments that have taken place in India in the last several years, and the manner in which Singapore has contributed to India's progress."
    
Singh noted that India-Singapore relations also encompassed political, security and defence cooperation. "We value our engagement with Singapore in these areas," he said.
    
He said the people-to-people exchanges, tourism and the revolution in connectivity have brought India and Singapore closer to each other than ever.
    
Today, eleven Indian cities are directly connected by air to Singapore.
    
Singh said he was greatly encouraged to see the linkages being established between museums and universities of the two countries.
    
"Singapore's consistent support to the Nalanda University Project is a matter of great encouragement for us. I would also like to thank you for the warm welcome that has been given to thousands of Indians working and studying in Singapore," he said.
    
Significantly, there was a proposal to name an orchid here after Singh and inaugurate it during this visit but it could not take place. "It was originally suggested but we thought time (of the visit) was too short. It was not refusal," Raghavan said on the issue.
    
At the same time, he said it was not necessary to have orchid-naming function whenever any foreign leader visits Singapore.
    
Sources, however, said there have been several occasions when various orchids have been named after some foreign leaders and inaugurated during their visits to Singapore.

(Agencies)