The bilateral relationship with Singapore is one of Australia's closest and most comprehensive in Southeast Asia. This is based on long-standing Commonwealth, defence, education, political, trade and tourism links, as well as on the two countries' similar strategic outlook. Singapore and Australia cooperate on many issues integral to trade and security.
The 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence, and the 50th anniversary of Australia-Singapore diplomatic relations, was celebrated in 2015. To mark this occasion, on 29 June 2015, our two countries signed a Joint Declaration on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). We agreed that the CSP will open a new, dynamic chapter in our partnership by deepening existing areas of cooperation and catalysing new ones. This built upon the 1996 Joint Declaration “A New Partnership” which encompassed cooperation in cultural, economic, political and security matters.
The two governments have embarked on a ten year plan to enhance our strategic, trade, economic and people to people links, to drive further integration of our economies. The two countries will, in particular, enhance our collaboration in innovation, science, research and technology, capitalising on our respective and complementary strengths.
Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
In May 2016, Australia and Singapore announced an inaugural package of initiatives to strengthen economic, defence, security, foreign affairs, innovation and people-to-people ties under the CSP.
Prime Minister Lee’s visit to Canberra in October 2016 represents a significant milestone for the CSP. This visit sees our two nation’s commitments come to fruition with the signing of the Agreement to Amend the Singapore Australia Free Trade Agreement, and MOUs on defence, innovation and policing.
These wide-ranging initiatives will continue to elevate Australia’s partnership with Singapore, building on existing areas of cooperation while also driving new ones and is focused on four pillars: economics, trade and investment; defence and security; innovation and science; and people to people links.
Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)
The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is a central pillar of Australia’s economic relationship with Singapore. SAFTA, which entered into force in 2003, was the first FTA Australia concluded since Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement 1983 (ANZCERTA).
On 13 October 2016, in Canberra, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment and his Singaporean counterpart Mr Lim Hng Kiang Minister for Trade and Investment signed the Agreement to Amend SAFTA (not yet in force) [PDF 2.30 MB]. This Agreement reflects the outcomes of the third review of SAFTA, which was substantially concluded on 6 May 2016, as part of a package of initiatives to advance the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between the two countries.
The third review of SAFTA addresses longstanding ‘behind the border’ issues of commercial interest to Australian services providers, in areas such as education, labour mobility and professional services. In a number of these areas, Singapore has offered Australia better commitments than it has previously offered to any other trading partner.
SAFTA, as amended, will enter into force once both countries have completed their domestic treaty processes.
Further information on the outcomes of the Third Review: