Singapore emerged as the top source for FDI into India in 2013, investing $5.98 billion here, which totals about 25 per cent of India's total FDI. But there is much more to the Singapore relationship. Among other things, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had built a special personal relationship with former PM Goh Chok Tong. Officials said Singapore was interested in sharing "niche expertise" with India, such as "public sector governance, urban planning, infrastructure development, education and skills development, etc." A Singapore official said, "We expect to reaffirm our longstanding and warm relations with India as well as explore how both countries can elevate our relations to a higher level."
Shanmugam is expected to meet the PM in New Delhi, but plans to meet a broad spectrum of Indian leadership in Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai. He will hold talks with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj, telecom minister Ravishankar Prasad, finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley and national security adviser Ajit Doval. In Hyderabad, Shanmugam is scheduled to meet Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana Chief Minister KC Rao. Andhra Pradesh is probably the only Indian state to have had an outreach office in Singapore. In Chennai, he will meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, along with top business leaders.
As close partners in Asean, India and Singapore enjoy a particularly high level of mutual confidence. The bilateral relationship has expanded from an economic one to strategic. Singapore went through a bit of a wrinkle with India in the last few years, particularly after an Indian government report described it as a "tax haven", which elicited a high-level protest from the Singapore PM himself.
India will be looking for greater economic interaction and one of the conversations on the table would be on the fate of the RCEP. India is scheduled to become the Asean-FTA partner facilitator by holding the next round of negotiations in India in December. Singapore held the fifth round of talks past week and the broad hope is to have it signed and sealed by 2015. "Through RCEP, India will join a dynamic economic community that comprises nearly 45% of the world's population with a combined GDP of $21.4 trillion," said an official.
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