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Speech For The Signing Ceremony Of The Avoidance Of Double Taxation Agreement Between Singapore And Finland Delivered By DPM/ Minister For Finance Lee Hisen Loong, 7th June 2002, 3.30pm At The Ministry Of Finance, The Treasury

07 Jun 2002

Your Excellency Ms Suvi-Anne Siimes
Minister, Ministry of Finance,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

1. It is my pleasure to welcome Your Excellency to Singapore and to this signing ceremony.

2. Singapore and Finland have enjoyed good and friendly relations ever since diplomatic relations were established in 1973. Bilateral ties have strengthened over the years, with visits by the leaders of the two countries. Minister Siimes, you yourself were in Singapore a year ago. I am happy to be welcoming you back again.

3. Finnish business interests in Singapore have been increasing. Our bilateral trade has grown steadily. We also have significant cooperation in cultural matters. For example, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is performing this weekend in the Arts Festival, under its conductor Leif Segerstam.

4. The signing of this new Agreement will further strengthen the excellent relations between our two countries and advance our shared economic interests. It updates the terms of the current Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, which was signed in October 1981.

5. In the two decades since then, the world has changed many times. We are now in totally different economic circumstances. In Asia, the boom of the 1980s and 1990s was succeeded by the Asian Crisis. Now Northeast Asia is forging ahead, and Southeast Asian countries are picking themselves up in a more competitive and difficult environment.

6. Since 1981, the Singa-pore economy has made substantial progress in economic development, and has now reached a turning point. We are rethinking our basic strategies for promoting growth and prosperity, and strengthening our ties with our main economic partners, in Europe, the US and Japan.

7. In Europe, the Cold War has been over for a decade. EU economic integration has come a long way. Finland has joined the Euro. It has become a highly industrialized, free-market economy with excellent infrastructure, one of the world leaders in telecommuni-cations and information technology.

8. Singapore and Finland can share experiences and expertise with each another. With our strategic location in Southeast Asia, Singa-pore can continue to be the hub for Finnish businesses planning to expand in the Asia-Pacific region. Each country can leverage on the strengths and opportunities of the other for mutual benefit.

9. This new Agreement takes into consideration the very different circumstances which our two countries now find ourselves in. Through it, our two Governments are sending a clear signal to our private sectors to pursue opportunities in each other's economies, and also jointly to venture into Europe and Asia.

10. The new Agreement will make clear the taxing rights of Singapore and Finland on all forms of income arising from cross-border economic activities between our two countries. It will continue to eliminate double taxation, through each country recognising the tax paid by its residents to the other country. It provides greater tax certainty for our business-men, and will make it more attractive for companies of one country to operate businesses in the other country.

11. I am confident that this new Agreement will further promote trade and investment between Singapore and Finland, and enhance the cross flow of technology, talent and expertise. I therefore have pleasure to join you, Your Excellency, in signing the new Agreement.