Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore is a good place to think out of the box and widen one’s horizons. The port, the skyline and the large number of companies with international connections are clear indicators. I am delighted to be here.
Singapore is a centre of world trade, and as such an important and highly valued partner. Its port is the second-biggest in the world and rightly known as the “Best Port in Asia”. It is most impressive to see how Singapore both embraces and steadily develops the opportunities offered by digital technology. Smart solutions were the topic of discussion at the World Cities Summit and also of my talks with Prime Minister Lee, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Balakrishnan, and many other experts. Singapore is so far ahead in these areas that it is like looking into the future. We want to learn from these experiences.
Hamburg and Singapore share an interest in modern answers to problems, in international communication and economic collaboration. Singapore is now the second-biggest customer of the Port of Hamburg in terms of container traffic, and ranks sixth for general sea freight. 400 companies in Hamburg maintain business contacts with Singapore and well over 100 have representatives based here.
It is important to us to expand our traditionally good relations. Germany’s world trade is anchored in Hamburg. Our city lies on one of Europe’s greatest rivers. It is easily accessible because three of the nine core European transport routes meet in the city. Increasing numbers of Asian enterprises have branches in our city. The good hinterland connections make the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg an ideal port of entry into the European Single Market.
Hamburg’s economy is growing: in future we shall have to cope with even more traffic on the same amount of space - the only solution is smart transport systems. We operate a smart port. We use digital technology to avoid unnecessary traffic, integrate transport modes and make more efficient use of energy. Many Singaporean companies have more advanced experience in this field and Europe needs their skills.
We are also interested in Singapore’s concepts to resolve competition for space: Hamburg will be adopting the idea of flatted factories and thus launch a style of commercial property that is completely new in Germany and Europe. Some people will find it hard to believe that a truck can drive into third-floor premises with no problems. This too is something we can learn from Singaporean companies.
Companies from Singapore wishing to set up a business in the Metropolitan Region of Hamburg may call on the Hamburg Business Development Corporation (HWF) for advice and guidance on everything relating to issues of establishment and work. I am delighted to have Dr Strittmatter with me on this trip. He will be talking in greater detail about the opportunities that international enterprises can find in Hamburg.
Hamburg offers a cosmopolitan environment and a good quality of life. People from over 190 nations live in the city, one Hamburg resident in three has family members who come from another country. Compared with other business metropolises the price of land is moderate and the city has an excellent cultural life that is admired around the world. Hamburg is an attractive, green, waterfront metropolis. Every year we welcome many millions of tourists, and our hotels are always full. The urge to visit Hamburg will even grow stronger, because the Elbphilharmonie, a world-class concert hall with acoustics designed by Yasuhisa Toyota from Japan, opens in January 2017. Please come along, we would be delighted to see you!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased by your interest in Hamburg. I know that we owe our city’s good reputation here in Singapore also to Ralf Schmidt, the Hamburg Ambassador and General Manager of the HSH Nordbank. Mr Schmidt, I should like to thank you very much for being our host this evening, and for all the work you do here in Singapore.
In its article on The Republic of Singapore, which will celebrate its 51st anniversary a few days from now, “The Economist” spoke of “the Singapore exception.” The young nation has combined traditional wisdom and virtues with modern science in a most impressive manner. I fully agree that Singapore is really exceptional.
Thank you very much.