SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Singapore and Morocco have agreed to collaborate on carbon markets and work together to provide technical assistance to governments in Africa.
At the end of a three-day official visit to mark 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Monday (July 4) that a memorandum of understanding, which was signed by himself and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, sets the two countries to cooperate in achieving emission targets.
Under the agreement, Singapore and Morocco will work towards developing a legally binding framework that will allow carbon credits to be transferred between the two countries.
Carbon credits are tradable permits that give their owner the right to emit a fixed amount of greenhouse gases.
When credits are transferred from one country to another, the changes in emissions volumes for each country are reflected in their greenhouse gas accounting.
The two countries are also working together to provide technical assistance for Africa.
Dr Balakrishnan said that in October, Singapore and Morocco will jointly organise a pilot programme on leadership and governance for African countries, which will be held in Morocco for African countries.
On Monday, a letter of intent on cooperation in capacity building was signed by Moroccan Ambassador Director-General Mohamed Methqal and Singapore Ambassador to Morocco George Goh in Morocco's capital Rabat.
The letter's signing, said Dr Balakrishnan, signals hope that both countries have to conclude a memorandum of understanding on technical cooperation soon.
At a joint press conference with Bourita on Monday, Dr Balakrishnan said he had presented Bourita - a senior adviser to Moroccan King Mohammed VI - an invitation from President Halimah Yacob to the king to pay Singapore a state visit.
Although Morocco and Singapore are in different parts of the world, Dr Balakrishnan said they share in being gateways to respective areas of the world.
"This is a relationship which has in fact been founded on very good diplomatic ties, but I think the economic dimension of it is just waiting to take off, and to take off significantly," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan said that during his visit to Morocco, he was struck by the "values of tolerance, co-existence and religious harmony" that the country represents, adding that he had been to Hassan II Mosque and David Hamelekh Synagogue during his visit.
"In Morocco, you consider this natural," said Dr Balakrishnan.
"But this wonderful attribute of Morocco is in fact unusual, special and precious. This is a message that Morocco needs to take to the world.
"That is the other reason why we hope His Majesty will visit us, come to South-East Asia and show that wonderful aspect of Moroccan society, history and tradition."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that Dr Balakrishnan and Bourita also discussed sustainable development, education, trade and investment, as well as enhancing connectivity.
"Minister Balakrishnan welcomed Morocco's interest to strengthen its engagement of Asean, and reiterated Singapore's support for Morocco's application to become a sectoral dialogue partner of Asean," the ministry said.
During his visit, Dr Balakrishnan also met other Moroccan leaders such as Minister of Industry and Trade Ryad Mezzour, Minister in Charge of Digital Transition Ghita Mezzour, and the President of the National Museums Foundation Mehdi Qotbi.