New Zealand and Singapore to forge closer ties

  • Murray McCully
Foreign Affairs

New Zealand and Singapore are to pursue an Enhanced Partnership that will significantly boost collaboration between the two countries, their Foreign Ministers, Hon Murray McCully, and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, announced today

The two Ministers, who met in Wellington today, said the Enhanced Partnership would deepen cooperation in the areas of trade and economics, security and defence, people-to-people links and research, technology and innovation, and in ways that would set an example of integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the trade and economic area, the two countries will upgrade the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP). Total two-way annual goods trade between New Zealand and Singapore currently sits at $NZ 2.5 billion, with significant tourism, other services, trade and investment adding value for both countries. The way that business is done and the opportunities to trade have changed since the bilateral trade agreement - New Zealand's second, and Singapore’s first - was originally signed in 2000.  Both countries will also seek ways to facilitate business linkages and promote increased investment collaboration, including for Small and Medium Enterprises.

Food will be a particular focus, with proposals to facilitate the movement of food between both countries in order to firmly establish Singapore’s position as a gateway for New Zealand’s exports to South East Asia. Agri-food trade between New Zealand and Singapore is already valued at more than $600 million a year.

New Zealand and Singapore will build on the Defence Cooperation Arrangement signed in 2009, and identify opportunities to collaborate further on defence and security. New Zealand and Singapore have a close and longstanding defence relationship, which stretches back to World War Two when New Zealand troops helped defend Singapore. Both countries’ armed forces train and operate together regularly, including under the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, and peace support operations. Given the changing security landscape, New Zealand and Singapore will also work towards closer cooperation in non-traditional areas such as cybersecurity.

Stronger people to people connections will be pursued through new opportunities in education, tourism, and arts and culture.

The Enhanced Partnership will also seek to stimulate more engagement in the areas of research, technology and innovation, where both countries are already realising their potential as outward-facing developed economies. Both countries will look to learn from each other in emerging areas such as smart cities, food technology, and environment and water management.

In launching the Enhanced Partnership discussions, the Foreign Ministers acknowledged the broad, long-standing connections already shared between New Zealand and Singapore, and expressed a strong commitment to improving their breadth and quality.