Singapore has been held up by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands as proof that small countries can possess “exceptional strength and worldwide allure”.
Speaking at a state banquet for visiting President Halimah Yacob, he said Singapore is a young country that is not afraid to embrace the future, and an example for others in many ways.
“A high standard of living, excellent education, state-of-the-art infrastructure, technological expertise: All these things come together in your nation,” he added in his address on Wednesday evening (Nov 21).
Nearly 200 people were present at the banquet held in honour of President Halimah, who is on a five-day state visit to the Netherlands that began on Tuesday.
Among those at the dinner in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam was Princess Beatrix, who was the country’s queen before she abdicated in favour of her son in 2013.
They were seated at long tables decorated with fresh flowers, including orchids, and served a four-course meal, starting with an appetiser of thinly sliced veal with seared tuna, followed by a seafood soup with bell peppers and lobster.
Guests had beef Wellington, followed by chocolate ice cream and a tonka bean parfait.
SMALL NATION, BIG ACHIEVEMENTS
A high standard of living, excellent education, state-of-the-art infrastructure, technological expertise: All these things come together in your nation.
KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER OF THE NETHERLANDS, on Singapore.
President Halimah, in her speech, highlighted the longstanding friendship between Singapore and the Netherlands that goes back to the early years of the Republic’s independence.
Both countries continue to share strong economic ties and a similar outlook on the world, she said.
This includes a “common commitment” to multilateralism, free trade and the rule of law.
“We are both outward-looking countries with open economies and world-class ports and airports,” she said. “Trade is our lifeblood, and our two countries are the gateways to our respective regions.”
Singapore is the top overseas investment destination in South-east Asia for the Netherlands, with Dutch investments totalling more than €60 billion (S$94 billion). This puts it as Singapore’s fourth-largest global investor. Singapore’s investments in the Netherlands amount to more than €12 billion.
In trade, the Netherlands is Singapore’s third-largest trading partner in the European Union.
President Halimah said the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed last month “will further deepen economic relations”.
During the visit, the President and other Singapore officials will visit Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, and Eindhoven, and learn how the Dutch have come up with innovative solutions to various problems.
King Willem-Alexander, noting President Halimah’s planned visit to his country’s various centres of knowledge and creativity, said: “You’ll be able to learn more about the Dutch approach – an approach that you may find a bit unpolished and unconventional.”
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