Singapore–United Kingdom relations

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Bilateral foreign relations between Singapore and the United Kingdom are represented by the UK's high commission in Singapore, and Singapore's high commission in London. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.


Britain first established a settlement on the island of Singapore in 1819 under Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, and took possession of the whole island in 1823. It formally became a British colony in 1824, and remained in British hands (apart from the Japanese occupation of 1941-45) until 1963, when the island was granted its independence. Between 1963 and 1965, Singapore formed part of Malaysia.

As a result of the long historical relationship, English is one of Singapore's 4 official languages (see Singapore English).

Bilateral Relations[edit]

The United Kingdom co-operates with Singapore on a wide range of international issues. During Singapore's non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council (2001/02) intensified bilateral contacts on key issues affecting international peace and security. The UK and Singapore have also been closely co-operating in the area of counter terrorism and counter proliferation, both politically and operationally.


Since 1971, the two countries have co-operated militarily through the Five Power Defence Arrangements, which involve annual joint exercises with other partners including Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. The UK has a defence attache in Singapore and a logistics supply depot.[1] In contrast, Singapore has no military attache in their High Commission in London.

Trade and Investment[edit]

Singapore is the United Kingdom's largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, with two thirds of UK exports to this region flowing into Singapore. UK exports of goods only to Singapore in 2010 were valued at £3.29billion, a 15% increase on 2009 while imports of goods from Singapore in 2010 were valued at £3.99billion, an 18% increase on 2009. The top exports of UK goods to Singapore are power generating machinery, beverages and general industrial machinery while the top exported goods from Singapore were organic chemical, power generating machinery and office machines. As of 2009, Singapore was the UK’s 11th largest market for services exports.[2]

There are few import tariffs from Singapore who supports the World Trade Organisation process fully. Singapore was the first ASEAN country to commence negotiations with the EU for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The UK is the fourth largest foreign investor in Singapore with cumulative stock of £23.5 billion at end 2009. This accounts for approximately 20% of total EU investment in Singapore. There are over 31,000 British nationals and some 700 British companies in Singapore. Many of the major long-term British investors have increased their footprint in Singapore recently, including Barclays, Dyson, HSBC, Rolls Royce, Shell and Standard Chartered. There has also been a significant increase in the number of British SMEs entering the market and British universities establishing collaborative partnerships with Singapore’s educational institutions.[3]

The UK attracts over two thirds of all Singaporean investment into the European Union with a cumulative stock of £20.6 billion with financial and insurance services, real estate and ICT being the most significant sectors.[4]

State Visits[edit]

The President of the Republic of Singapore, Tony Tan on a State Visit to the United Kingdom in October 2014.

In 2011, 6 dignitaries from the United Kingdom visited Singapore including Peter Ricketts, the National Security Advisor in January, Martin Donnelly, BIS Permanent Secretary in February, John Aston, FCO Special Representative for Climate Change in March, Jeremy Browne, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April, Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence in June and HRH The Duke of York in September. The two Singaporean dignitaries who visited the United Kingdom in 2011 are Ow Foong Pheng, Permanent Secretary Singapore Ministry of Trade & Industry in September and HE Tony Tan, President of Singapore in December.[5]

Academic Exchanges[edit]

Education links between Singapore and the United Kingdom are strong. As of 2011, more than 3,000 Singaporeans were studying in the United Kingdom and the British Council estimate that around 80,000 UK qualifications are awarded annually in Singapore. Links in the arts are also strong with many British artists and organisations being invited to perform.

The British Council has a large presence teaching English to around 20,000 Singaporeans and foreign nationals. Current British Council projects focus on the internationalisation of education, developing young leaders to take action against climate change and the exchange of knowledge and expertise in the arts and creative industries.

Diplomatic Representation[edit]

Singapore is represented in the United Kingdom through the High Commission in London. The current Singapore High Commissioner to the United Kingdom is Ms Foo Chi Hsia. The Singapore High Commission in London is also accredited to the Republic of Ireland.[6]

The United Kingdom is represented in Singapore through the British High Commission in Singapore. The current United Kingdom High Commission to Singapore is Antony Phillipson.[7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "UK - SIN Trade and Investment". Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "UK - SIN Trade and Investment". Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "UK - SIN Trade and Investment". Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Foreign Visits". FCO UK. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "London High Commissioner". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "UK In Singapore HC". Retrieved 11 February 2012.