Speaking to BBC Radio, he also noted that he would be prepared to extend the terms of Singapore's recently agreed deal with the European Union to the UK, adding that he had discussed the possibility of such an arrangement with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Sputnik discussed the relationship between the UK and Singapore with Rajiv Biswas, the Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit.
Sputnik: How important is the trade relationship between Singapore and the United Kingdom for both parties, given the current malaise?
Rajiv Biswas: The relationship has historically been important given the UK's historic ties with Singapore, which used to be a colony of the UK. But over recent years, with the rise of Asian giants, such as China and Japan, and also the increasing importance of Southeast Asia, Singapore's trade relationships have shifted more and more towards Asian trade partners.
Sputnik: What's your forecast for the relationship? There are obviously very strong historical ties; you've mentioned that the potential for developing trade relationships specifically in the technology and the financial services sector is absolutely huge. You've alluded to the financial services, perhaps you could look at other areas of trade that could potentially reap rewards for both countries. You are looking at technology, but what about the agricultural side of things in terms of agribusiness; is there potential there?
One of the most important areas that I think in future will be flourishing is an aerospace. There is already Rolls Royce manufacturing of turbine blades in Singapore. [There is] a lot of maintenance for the large fleets of commercial aircraft that use Singapore as a maintenance hub, but I think because of Singapore Airlines, being a leading global airline, their orders for commercial aircraft will create a lot of potential future demand for British aerospace products, particularly for aircraft engines, but also other important aerospace components.
Sputnik: How beneficial would a trade deal between the two countries be? It's been reported earlier that the Trans-Pacific Partnership was willing to welcome the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union. Is a bilateral trade deal between the UK and Singapore possible? If something does develop, I would have thought that it could create almost a domino effect to allow other countries to start trading proactively with the United Kingdom — they've got strong ties similarly to Malaysia and Thailand, perhaps?
Rajiv Biswas: It's certainly possible from the point of view of the Asian side of things; so from the Asian perspective, the TPP members have the option to include the UK if they wish, that's their decision, and Singapore also can, offer the possibility of a bilateral trade deal for the UK. However, the problem for the UK is: what will be the shape of its new trade arrangements with the EU? That's still very unclear.
I think at the moment, Singapore is saying to the UK now "if and when you do a Brexit deal, we are very willing to come to you and offer an arrangement that would mirror the EU arrangement." But a lot will, of course, depend on how the UK talks go with the EU.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Rajiv Biswas and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.