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Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Addendum to the President's Address - Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs

08 May 2018

1             The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)’s mission is to safeguard Singapore’s independence and expand overseas opportunities for Singaporeans.


Ensure Singapore’s Global Relevance


Strengthening ASEAN’s Centrality and Unity


2             As the ASEAN Chair this year, Singapore will focus on strengthening ASEAN’s collective resilience and promoting innovation. Our Chairmanship will emphasise the importance of ASEAN’s unity and centrality in the evolving regional architecture. A key initiative is the ASEAN Smart Cities Network to promote ASEAN’s connectivity and attractiveness as an investment destination, and to improve the livelihood of ASEAN citizens. We will also enhance ASEAN’s cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity, counterterrorism, and people-to-people linkages.


Deepening Cooperation with and Maintaining Relevance to Key Partners


3             We will continue to deepen engagement with regional and key powers for Singapore’s long-term security and prosperity; cultivate a wide network of international friends; play a constructive role in multilateral fora; and expand Singapore’s mindshare and value proposition on the international stage. With China, our cooperation is deep, longstanding, and substantive. Besides building on the existing bilateral mechanisms and three Government-to-Government projects, we will pursue cooperation on a wide range of areas, including the Belt and Road Initiative. With the US, we will build on our longstanding relationship that is underpinned by robust defence and security cooperation, as well as deep economic linkages.


4             Relations with our immediate neighbours remain of utmost importance.  With Malaysia, connectivity projects like the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail and the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link will give both sides a greater stake in each other’s success. We will also deepen people-to-people links through educational, cultural and youth exchanges. With Indonesia, we will promote closer economic links, including through investments, skills training, tourism and the digital economy. We will explore new areas of cooperation with Indonesia’s regions.


Cultivating a Wide Network of International Partners


5             Promoting free trade and regional economic integration remains an important part of MFA’s work. Amidst rising protectionism, we will work with like-minded partners in international groupings such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Group of 20 (G20), and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to maintain a rules-based and open multilateral order. We will push for progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as well as for negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union.


6             We will enhance relations in emerging markets. This year, the 3rd Singapore-Sub-Saharan Africa High-Level Ministerial Exchange Visit will focus on building partnerships in smart city development. With South Asia, we will deepen economic engagement after the signing of the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement in January 2018. We will continue to deepen our economic links with Latin America, including through FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur.


7             We will also maintain a consistent position in upholding international law and support the peaceful resolution of disputes.


Expanding Singapore’s Mindshare


8             We will continue to develop the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) as a showcase of Singapore’s wide range of expertise including good governance, aviation and port management, and liveable and smart cities.  The SCP’s capacity building programmes aim to reinforce Singapore’s relevance and role as a responsible member of the international community. 


Support and Engage Singaporeans Overseas


9             MFA will improve the delivery of consular support to overseas Singaporeans through innovative technology and outreach initiatives.


10          We will step up engagement of Singaporeans both at home and abroad to help support our diplomacy. This includes combating deliberate falsehoods from external parties that seek to influence Singapore’s domestic and foreign policy decisions. 


11          Amidst an uncertain external environment, MFA is closely monitoring potential threats to regional peace and stability, including trade wars, terrorism, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.


12          MFA will continue to expand our diplomatic, political, and economic space, and work with other Ministries as part of a Whole-of-Government effort to preserve and advance our interests in a fast-changing and unpredictable world.


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