- The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade and Investment
- Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Defence
- The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, Special Envoy for Trade
- Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade)
- Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence
18 March 2016
1. Australian and Singaporean Ministers met in Sydney today to reaffirm the shared vision of both Governments to achieve new and ambitious levels of integration across the breadth of the bilateral relationship.
2. They recalled the Joint Declaration on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed by their Prime Ministers in June 2015 and underlined the strong state of the bilateral relationship. Ministers welcomed the proposed visit to Australia by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in May 2016.
3. Ministers welcomed the steady progress of collaborative activities and outcomes against the CSP ten-year roadmap. Ministers renewed their commitment to advancing economic, foreign affairs, defence, security and people-to-people initiatives.
Trade and Economic Cooperation
4. Ministers reiterated their vision for a Closer Economic Relationship. They welcomed progress on the third review of the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). Ministers instructed officials to negotiate outcomes which will facilitate the temporary entry of business persons and visitors in both directions; encourage the mutual recognition of qualifications by respective professional organisations; and further liberalise trade in goods as well as respective services, investment, and government procurement markets.
5. Ministers reviewed the breadth of opportunities in northern Australia and agreed to work with business to unlock new growth potential in areas such as food and agribusiness, aquaculture, resources and energy, tourism, infrastructure and tropical medicine.
6. Ministers reiterated their commitment to enhance aviation and maritime connectivity and welcomed strengthened tourism cooperation, noting expanding partnerships between respective tourism promotion agencies, partner airlines and airports to capitalise on the strong projected growth in regional and international tourism markets.
7. Ministers welcomed Singapore Airlines’ announcement of flights between Singapore, Canberra and Wellington to commence in September this year. Australian Ministers expressed appreciation for Singapore’s recent extension of the automated immigration clearance system for Australian passport holders.
8. Ministers noted the strong potential for innovation and technological change to transform the two countries’ economies. They agreed to accelerate science and innovation collaboration to deliver new sources of growth, overcome productivity challenges and seize the next wave of economic prosperity.
Defence and Security
9. Australia’s Minister for Defence briefed her counterparts on the 2016 Defence White Paper. Singapore Ministers expressed appreciation for Australia’s continued support for Singapore’s defence training in Australia. Both sides agreed to continue to enhance our defence cooperation across the five identified areas of: new military and civilian exchanges and postings; new training initiatives and greater collaboration in areas such as counter-terrorism, cyber security and other transnational threats; greater intelligence and information sharing in areas of common interest, such as new security challenges in counter-terrorism and extremism; cooperation in Defence Science and Technology; and increased access to, and joint development of, military training facilities in Australia. Ministers welcomed the signing in July last year of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Defence Science and Technology.
10. Ministers expressed concern with the increasing threat of terrorism in the region and agreed to enhance intelligence sharing and collaboration to counter violent extremism.
11. Ministers encouraged deepened engagement between respective law enforcement and national security agencies to tackle regional terrorism and transnational crime following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism in June 2015. Ministers welcomed the recent secondments of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers to the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore. The AFP and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) have agreed to enter into an MOU on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation.
12. Ministers reaffirmed the continuing importance of the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the increasing significance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus to regional stability and security.
13. Ministers agreed that Australia and Singapore will continue to work closely at international and regional fora, such as the UN, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the G20.
14. Recognising the value of deepening foreign policy dialogue and capability, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs agreed to establish a Foreign Service Officer exchange program between Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commencing in 2016. They also welcomed further collaboration on the delivery of development program to third countries in the region, including through the forthcoming inaugural Policy Dialogue in April.
15. Ministers reaffirmed the success of Australia’s New Colombo Plan, in which Singapore is proud to be one of four pilot countries. Ministers agreed to build on the momentum of the New Colombo Plan and create new opportunities for youth to study and undertake internships in each other’s countries. Ministers welcomed the fact that by the end of 2016 over 700 Australian students, funded by the Australian Government, will have studied in Singapore under the New Colombo Plan since the Plan’s inception in 2014. They looked forward to the next generation of business, government and civil society leaders using their networks to foster regional peace and prosperity.
16. Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to convene regular High Level Women’s Dialogues to identify practical actions to promote the empowerment of women and girls.
17. Ministers also welcomed the wide-ranging collaboration between respective arts and cultural institutions, including the museums, libraries, galleries, and performing arts groups and looked forward to upcoming cultural exchanges to be pursued under the ambit of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Arts and Culture between Singapore and Australia signed in June 2015. Singapore Ministers looked forward to welcoming the Australian World Orchestra to Singapore in October 2016.
Regional Developments, Cooperation and Institutions
18. Ministers reaffirmed Australia and Singapore’s shared interest in stability, economic growth and the development of nations in the region. They agreed to continue collaboration to advance the evolving regional institutions, including the role of the East Asia Summit. Ministers reiterated the importance of ASEAN centrality in regional architecture. Ministers welcomed the creation of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015.
19. Ministers welcomed the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in February, noting that the TPP would strengthen regional economies, lift regional competitiveness and support the creation of jobs and increased prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. Ministers agreed to continue to aim for a high quality agreement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). They noted that both the TPP and RCEP are potential pathways to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
20. Ministers 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, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint, take steps to ease tensions and refrain from provocative actions that could escalate tensions. Ministers also emphasised the importance of non-militarisation of features. Ministers underscored their shared interest in freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded trade in the South China Sea. They emphasised the need for ASEAN and China to make substantive progress on a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, as well as full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
21. Ministers expressed grave concerns over the dangerous and destabilising actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). They agreed that the DPRK’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch present a grave threat to the peace, stability, and security on the Korean Peninsula and the broader Indo-Pacific region. They strongly urged the DPRK to adhere to UN Security Council resolutions, refrain from further provocation, abide by its international obligations, and engage constructively with the international community, including through the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. They expressed their commitment to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2270 (2016)
22. Singaporean Ministers invited their Australian counterparts to Singapore for the tenth SAJMC in 2017-2018.