Singapore and Australia share longstanding and multifaceted relations. Australia was among the first countries to recognise our independence. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015. Both countries also work closely in multilateral forums and enjoy warm people-to-people relations.
Singapore and Australia enjoy close defence ties, founded on substantive interactions and common perspectives on many issues. The Singapore Armed Forces trains in Australia, both unilaterally and bilaterally with the Australian Defence Force. Singapore and Australia also cooperate closely in multilateral forums such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
Australia is also an important economic partner for Singapore. The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which helped boost bilateral economic ties, was signed on 17 February 2003 and entered into force on 28 July 2003. Singapore and Australia are also part of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Singapore and Australia share a close relationship on tax matters. We have an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation, which entered into force on 11 February 1969. In 2018, both countries deepened our tax cooperation by commencing the first automatic exchange of financial account information and Country-by-Country reports, in line with international tax standards. Singapore, like Australia, is committed to the implementation of international tax standards. Like Australia, we also participate actively in international tax fora, which include the Inclusive Framework for Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“Inclusive Framework”) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (“Global Forum”). Both the Inclusive Framework and the Global Forum monitor and peer-review jurisdictions’ compliance and implementation of international standards.
Our close relationship was elevated through the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed in June 2015. The CSP provides a framework to deepen engagement in various areas including four key pillars: Economics, Trade and Investment; Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Security; People-to-People; and Science and Innovation. In May 2016, Australia and Singapore announced a transformational package of new bilateral initiatives that upgraded cooperation across all four pillars and gave effect to the CSP. The key agreements of the package were signed during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Australia in October 2016 for the inaugural Leaders’ Summit under the CSP. These included the updated SAFTA which entered into force in December 2017, enhanced bilateral defence cooperation including through greater access to training areas in Australia for Singaporean troops, and greater collaboration in science research and innovation.Under the CSP, Singapore and Australia continue to find new areas of cooperation to expand the close bilateral collaboration.