SINGAPORE: Singapore and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Monday (Mar 21) on artificial intelligence (AI) cooperation, signalling both countries’ intent to accelerate cross-border collaboration in the area.
Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is in Israel on an official visit, signed the MOU with Israel Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen.
The MOU on cooperation in AI between Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and Israel’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology will support the development and deployment of AI for “collective benefit”, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement.
On Monday, Dr Balakrishnan also met with Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid.
The ministry said Dr Balakrishnan reaffirmed the longstanding ties between Singapore and Israel in multiple fields during his meetings.
The ministers also welcomed the strengthening of cooperation in areas such as innovation and technology, trade and investment, research and development (R&D) and education.
This year, the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Since its inception in 1997, the foundation has funded about 190 projects, providing about US$120 million to projects between Singapore and Israel in areas such as information and communications technology, electronics, and biomedical and life sciences.
Singaporean and Israeli companies have been increasingly active in exploring opportunities in both countries.
Israel is Singapore’s fourth largest trading partner and foreign investor among the Middle East countries, with a total foreign direct investment of US$875 million.
“Minister Balakrishnan highlighted that Singapore and Israel should deepen collaboration in emerging areas such as agri-food tech, health-tech, AI and digitalisation, as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MFA.
Singapore will also establish an embassy in Tel Aviv to “serve as a focal point and support Singapore companies seeking to expand their collaboration with potential Israeli partners”, the ministry added.
During his meeting with Mr Lapid, Dr Balakrishnan had an open discussion on regional and international developments.
“Singapore has a longstanding and principled support for a negotiated two-state solution, consistent with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security, in order to achieve a durable, just and comprehensive solution,” said MFA.
“Singapore hopes that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides would find ways to engage in direct negotiations on the basis of a two-state solution,” said the ministry, adding that all parties should refrain from any unilateral actions that could “increase tensions and undermine the prospects for peace”.
Dr Balakrishnan is scheduled to visit technology investment platform OurCrowd and meet prominent personalities in Israel’s technology industry on Monday evening.
The minister’s trip to Israel was part of an official visit to the Middle East, which included stops at the Palestinian Territories and Bahrain over the weekend.