Australia and Singapore strengthen ties on trade, economic cooperation, defence – October 2016
Agreements signed this month during an official visit to Australia by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong represent the most substantial upgrade in the Australia-Singapore relationship in a generation, according to a joint communique issued by Mr Lee and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.
The two countries signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement in June 2015, and in their communique, the prime ministers reaffirmed the Australia-Singapore partnership’s enduring foundation of shared interests and complementary strengths.
“Australia and Singapore are natural partners with common interests and a common desire for a prosperous and stable region,” said the communique.
“The Prime Ministers commended the sustained efforts of both nations to realise the many benefits of closer cooperation, welcoming strong achievements, particularly in trade and investment; innovation and science; defence and security; and people-to-people links,” it added.
“The prime ,ministers applauded the efforts of their ministers to expand economic cooperation, including through a comprehensive update of the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) to deepen commercial links, reduce red tape, and provide greater opportunities for exporters and investors.
“The revised SAFTA will also facilitate trade in the digital age, which is a significant step forward in the economic integration of Singapore and Australia.
“The prime ministers also discussed potential economic opportunities and investment partnerships in Australia, noting the recent visit by a Singaporean delegation to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia to assess commercial opportunities.
“Singapore and Australia share an unwavering commitment to the principles of free and open trade, including through the conclusion of multilateral trade agreements to enhance regional and global economic growth.
“The prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the early conclusion of an ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and called for the prompt entry into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to usher in a new era of economic growth and opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The prime ministers welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Innovation and Science.
They agreed that fostering further collaboration among scientific, industrial and financial sectors was vital to transitioning both countries to agile 21stcentury economies and to raising international competitiveness and productivity.
“The prime ministers discussed Australia and Singapore’s increasing strategic convergence. They agreed on the need to deepen collaboration to continue to strengthen regional institutions, such as the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
“They reaffirmed Australia and Singapore’s commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements, and looked forward to the Special ASEAN-Australia Summit in Australia in 2018, during Singapore’s year as ASEAN Chair.
“The prime ministers underlined Australia and Singapore’s shared interests in freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded trade in the South China Sea.
“They called on all parties concerned to resolve disputes in the South China Sea peacefully, with full respect for legal and diplomatic processes and in accordance with international law.”
The communique said the prime ministers shared their concerns about the increasing threat of regional terrorism, reaffirmed their historic decision to significantly expand defence cooperation, and welcomed the substantial elevation in the defence relationship which builds on the MOU on Defence Cooperation signed in 2008.
They welcomed the conclusion of an MOU on Military Training and Training Area Development, which will significantly increase and enhance the Singapore Armed Forces’ training in Australia and include the joint development of training areas and facilities.