The Eighth Meeting of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee
(SAJMC) was held in Singapore on 22 August 2014. The meeting was hosted by
Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam, and
attended by Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang and Minister for
Defence Ng Eng Hen. From Australia, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie
Bishop, Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb AO, and Assistant Minister
for Defence Stuart Robert attended the meeting.
The Ministers resolved to develop a new comprehensive strategic partnership
that recognises the increasing closeness of our governments, the historic
opportunities in our region, and the tangible benefits to be achieved for our
They agreed on a roadmap towards this partnership - "Project 2025" - a
specific set of actions towards this end.
They agreed that the new comprehensive strategic partnership will see new
levels of integration, and involve deeper cooperation across the Economic,
Foreign Affairs, Defence/Security and People-to-People fields.
- In the Economic field, the
Ministers agreed to deepen economic integration and upgrade the
Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) to a Closer Economic
Partnership. The Ministers also agreed to enhance financial cooperation,
including more integrated financial markets, strengthen two-way investment flows
and business activity in agriculture, resources, aviation cooperation, tourism,
and other fields, including in Northern Australia. There will be close
cooperation on how both nations can better integrate economically and benefit
from a vibrant growing region.
- In Foreign Affairs, the Ministers
agreed to elevate the bilateral dialogue and enhance collaboration on regional
and international issues, including cooperation in ASEAN and on regional
architecture and the East Asia Summit (EAS). They will embark on exchanges of
officials and third country training programmes for the region.
- In Defence and Security, the
Ministers agreed to further collaboration on transnational crime and
counter-terrorism. They will further strengthen defence cooperation and access
and enhancement of training facilities, and embark on new programmes of
exchanges at the military and officials' levels.
- In the People-to-People field,
the Ministers will step up cooperation in research and innovation, education,
women's issues, and arts and culture. The Ministers also agreed to expand public
sector cooperation and exchanges.
Recognising the significance of the 50th anniversary next year of the
establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Australia, Ministers
tasked officials to prepare a bilateral joint declaration which will be signed
between the two Prime Ministers in 2015.
In reviewing the state of bilateral relations, Ministers concluded that the
partnership between the two countries is excellent, underpinned by shared
perspectives on strategic issues. This provides a solid foundation for
elevating bilateral relations further.
Singapore Ministers in particular welcomed the Australian Government's
commitment to strengthen ties with Singapore and the region, through active
engagement and innovative policies such as the New Colombo Plan, of which
Singapore is amongst its first participants.
Ministers exchanged views on regional and global developments that have taken
place since the Seventh SAJMC Meeting in Canberra in 2012. Ministers
condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine on 17 July
2014 which resulted in 298 deaths, including 38 Australian citizens and
permanent residents. They urged the full implementation of the United
Nations Security Council Resolution 2166 on MH17 sponsored by Australia.
Trade and Economic Cooperation
Ministers reaffirmed the close and longstanding economic and trade relations
between Australia and Singapore, as well as our commitment to further economic
integration and trade liberalisation. Our strong ties have also helped pave the
way for cooperation in various regional and multilateral fora.
SAFTA Ministers acknowledged the SAFTA as a cornerstone of our bilateral
relations and its importance in promoting closer integration between the two
economies. Since the SAFTA came into force in 2003, bilateral trade more than
doubled from S$12 billion in 2003 to S$25 billion in 2013. Singapore is
Australia's 5th largest overall trading partner and largest trading partner in
ASEAN while Australia is Singapore's 12th largest trading partner in 2013.
Bilateral investment flows have also continued to grow. In 2013, Singapore's
investments in Australia reached A$61 billion and Australia's investments in
Singapore reached A$35 billion. Ministers recognised the importance of updating
the SAFTA to ensure its continued relevance to businesses.
AANZFTA Ministers noted the implementation of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand
FTA (AANZFTA) which remains the most comprehensive ASEAN+1 FTA and reflects the
close ties between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand. Ministers also acknowledged
the value of Singapore and Australia working more closely on ASEAN connectivity.
RCEP Ministers welcomed the progress of the Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. They recognised the significance of RCEP in
eliminating trade and investment barriers, as a potential pathway to a Free
Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and strengthening the regional economic
architecture. Ministers reaffirmed their strong aspirations towards achieving a
modern, comprehensive and high-quality agreement, and committed to advancing
negotiations towards these goals. To that end, Ministers urged officials to work
together to seek an agreed tariff modality for liberalisation that builds on and
goes beyond ASEAN+1 FTAs.
G20 Ministers underlined the value in Australia and Singapore's continued
partnership in shaping developments in global issues discussed across various
international forums. Singapore Ministers expressed appreciation for Australia's
invitation to Singapore for the G20 Brisbane Summit and acknowledged Australia's
excellent chairmanship of the G20 meetings. Australian Ministers welcomed
Singapore's contributions to the G20 agenda, such as in infrastructure, trade
and outreach to non-G20 members through the Global Governance Group (3G).
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to advance trade issues of mutual interest
in the G20, including reducing protectionism, improving trade facilitation, and
supporting multilateral trade liberalisation. Ministers agreed to work together
towards concrete deliverables at the G20 Brisbane Summit.
APEC Ministers welcomed APEC's progress towards attaining the Bogor Goals and
eventual realisation of FTAAP. APEC's work demonstrates its leadership and
commitment towards Regional Economic Integration.
WTO Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the rules-based multilateral
trading system embodied by the WTO, which provides stability and predictability
to international trade. Ministers expressed deep disappointment over the
failure to adopt the Protocol for the WTO's Agreement on Trade Facilitation and
urged all WTO Members to remain committed to the implementation of trade
facilitation measures. Ministers agreed to instruct their negotiators to
continue work to put the WTO on a credible path towards fulfilling Members'
collective goal of global trade liberalisation.
TPP On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Ministers agreed that both sides
would continue to work closely together to deliver an ambitious, comprehensive
and high-standard agreement expeditiously.
Aviation Relations Ministers reaffirmed the close aviation relations between
Singapore and Australia, noted the SAFTA commitment to continue to work towards
an Open Skies Agreement, and welcomed the ongoing cooperation between aviation
authorities in multilateral forums, including APEC and the International Civil
Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Defence and Security Cooperation
Defence Cooperation Ministers reaffirmed the close and longstanding bilateral
defence relationship. They noted that bilateral defence ties have expanded
over the years with continuing professional interactions and exchanges under the
framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation signed at
the Prime Ministerial level in August 2008.
Defence Partnership Ministers acknowledged the strong partnership forged
between the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
during international security operations in Timor-Leste and multi-national
reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, as well as ongoing counter-piracy
cooperation in the Gulf of Aden and cooperation in maritime security through the
ADF's deployment of International Liaison Officers to Singapore's Information
Fusion Centre. Ministers also noted that Singapore and Australia's
co-chairmanship of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus)
Experts' Working Group on Counter Terrorism provides another concrete area of
cooperation between both defence organisations. Ministers welcomed the ongoing
discussions to expand military cooperation, including training, exercises,
exchanges and information-sharing, between both armed forces. Ministers noted
the importance of regional Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) cooperation
between both armed forces, and expressed support for collaboration efforts
through regional mechanisms.
Renewal of Training Agreements Ministers discussed progress toward renewing
the Memoranda of Agreement between Australia and Singapore on the use of the
Shoalwater Bay Training Area and arrangements governing the operation of the
SAF's flying training school at Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce.
Ministers reaffirmed the mutual benefits of such arrangements.
Police Cooperation Ministers noted the signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding on Combating Transnational Crime and Developing Police Cooperation
between the Singapore Police Force and Australian Federal Police in Canberra in
October 2012, as well as the convening of the inaugural and second SPF-AFP
Annual Exchanges in October 2012 and November 2013.
Nuclear/Radiological cooperation Ministers noted the signing of a Memorandum
of Understanding between the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs' Office of the
Chief Science and Technology Officer and the Australian Nuclear Science and
Technology Organisation in November 2012 to collaborate in nuclear science and
Other bilateral cooperation
Public Service Roundtable Ministers noted the convening of the third
Australia-Singapore Public Service Roundtable from 10-11 June 2013. They
welcomed the convening of the fourth Roundtable in September 2014 which would
discuss health and government services for the public.
Sports Cooperation Ministers welcomed efforts to deepen bilateral linkages
and promote exchanges in the sports sector through a three-year Memorandum of
Understanding on sports cooperation signed between the Ministry of Culture,
Community and Youth, Singapore and the then Department of Regional Australia,
Local Government, Arts and Sport in June 2013.
Regional Developments and Cooperation
40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Partnership Ministers welcomed
the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Australia dialogue partnership this year,
which presents an opportunity for Australia and ASEAN to take stock of the
achievements in ASEAN-Australia relations and set strategic directions for the
future of the partnership. They looked forward to the ASEAN-Australian
Leaders' 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit to be convened in November in Nay Pyi Taw, with a view to considering more regular summits in future.
ASEAN Community Ministers reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN's central role
in the regional architecture. They welcomed Australia's continued support for
ASEAN's regional integration agenda and the creation of the ASEAN Community on
31 December 2015.
Open and Inclusive Regional Architecture Ministers underscored the importance
of safeguarding ASEAN unity and centrality in the evolving regional architecture
and agreed on the importance of ensuring a rules-based, open and inclusive
regional architecture, including the EAS, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the
EAS Priority Areas Ministers agreed on the importance of deepening
cooperation to help foster a stable strategic environment, including through
practical cooperation in the six EAS priority areas of environment and energy,
education, health, disaster management, finance and ASEAN Connectivity.
Singapore Ministers appreciated Australia's strong support for the Master Plan
on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC), in particular through the ASEAN-Australia
Connectivity Workshop that Singapore successfully co-hosted with Australia on 26
South China Sea Ministers underscored the shared interests of Australia and
ASEAN in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law,
freedom of navigation and overflight as well as unimpeded trade in the South
China Sea. They called on all parties concerned to resolve the disputes in
the South China Sea peacefully in accordance with international law, including
the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They urged
all parties to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from actions that could
increase tensions. They also emphasised the need for ASEAN and China to
make substantive progress on a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, as well
as actions that can be taken now to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of
Parties in the South China Sea.
Five Power Defence Arrangements Ministers reaffirmed the continuing
importance and relevance of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) to
Regional Cooperation on People Smuggling Ministers welcomed regional efforts
to address irregular migration and trafficking in persons, such as through the
Australian and Singapore Ministers looked forward to the forthcoming visit to
Australia by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in November 2014 for the G20 Summit
in Brisbane. The Ministers also welcomed Prime Minister Tony Abbott to
make an official visit to Singapore in 2015, the fiftieth anniversary of
Singapore's independence and of the bilateral relationship.
Australian Ministers invited their Singapore counterparts to Australia for
the Ninth SAJMC in 2016.
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