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Australia

Overview

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.

Recent Highlights

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  • Minister (Defence) Dr Ng Eng Hen visited Australia from 19 to 21 November in conjunction with the Singapore Armed Force’s Exercise Wallaby.
  • Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove made a State Visit to Singapore from 21 to 24 September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of relations.
  • Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott made an official visit to Singapore from 28 to 29 June. During the visit, both Prime Ministers signed a Joint Declaration on a CSP.
  • Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews visited Singapore from 28 to 31 May for the 14th Shangri La Dialogue.
  • Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited Singapore on 20 May.
  • Australian Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek visited Singapore from 3 to 6 May.
  • Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Singapore in March for the State Funeral Service for Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made an official visit to Australia from 11 to 13 October for the inaugural Leaders’ Summit with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
  • Australian Attorney-General George Brandis visited Singapore from 29 September to 2 October.
  • Minister (Foreign Affairs) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister (Trade and Industry - Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and Minister (Defence) Dr Ng Eng Hen visited Australia from 17 to 18 March for the 9th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting.
  • Minister (Foreign Affairs) Dr Vivian Balakrishan made an introductory visit to Australia from 3 to 4 March.
  • Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb visited Singapore from 25 to 26 January.
  • Australian Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Employment Services, Workforce Participation and Future of Work and concurrently Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy The Honourable Ed Husic visited Singapore as the 59th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow from 6 to 11 November. Established in 1991, the LKYEF invites outstanding individuals for high-level visits to Singapore.
  • Minister (Foreign Affairs) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visited Perth, Australia from 4 to 5 November to attend the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (APRC). The APRC was organised by the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce for political and business leaders from Australia, Germany and Asia-Pacific countries to explore opportunities to enhance trade and investment flows.
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean visited Melbourne and Canberra from 8 to 12 September.
  • Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Minister for Defence Marise Payne, and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo visited Singapore on 21 August for the 10th meeting of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC) in Singapore on 21 August.
  • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made his first official visit to Singapore from 2 to 3 June for the 2nd Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Summit under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. He also delivered the Keynote Address at the 16th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue on 2 June.
  • Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop visited Singapore from 13 to 14 March.
  • Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne visited Singapore on 18 January 2018, during which he met Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

  • Australian Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong visited Singapore from 23 to 24 January 2018, during which she met Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and was hosted to lunch by Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo.

  • Australian Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan visited Singapore from 29 to 31 January 2018, during which he met Minister in-charge of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

  • Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman visited Perth, Australia from 1 to 2 February 2018 for the Sub-Regional Defence Ministers’ Meeting on Counter-Terrorism, where he met Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne.

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made an Official Visit to Sydney, Australia from 15 to 18 March 2018 at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. While in Sydney, Prime Minister Lee participated in the 3rd Singapore – Australia Leaders’ Summit, an annual meeting established under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Singapore and Australia in 2015. Prime Minister Lee also co-chaired the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit with Prime Minister Turnbull from 17 to 18 March 2018.

  • Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim made a working visit to Canberra, Australia from 26 to 28 March 2018, where he met Australian Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Angus Taylor.

  • Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne visited Singapore for the 17th Shangri La Dialogue on 2 June 2018, where she met Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.

  • Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Concetta Fierravanti-Wells visited Singapore on 14 June 2018, where she met Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sam Tan.

  • Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese visited Singapore from 9 to 10 July 2018 for the World Cities Summit, and was hosted to tea by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. Apart from Lord Mayor Haese, other Australian personalities including Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission Lucy Turnbull, Northern Territory Assistant Minister for a Vibrant Darwin CBD Paul Kirby MLA, Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis JP, Casey Mayor Emeritus Sam Aziz, Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins, Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood, and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill had also visited Singapore for the World Cities Summit.  

  • Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop visited Singapore for the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings from 3 to 4 August 2018, during which she met Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

  • Western Australian Minister for Tourism, Racing and Gaming, Small Business, Defence Issues, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Paul Papalia visited Singapore from 2 to 4 September 2018, where he met Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman.

  • Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan met Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne on the sidelines of the 73rdUnited Nations General Assembly in New York on 28 September 2018.

  • Australian Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne visited Singapore for the 5th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus from 19 to 20 October 2018, where he met Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.

  • Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam met Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton on the sidelines of the Sub-Regional Meeting on Counter Terrorism in Jakarta, which took place from 5 to 6 November 2018.

  • Australian Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo visited Singapore from 8 to 10 November 2018, and was hosted to lunch by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and breakfast by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Singapore to 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits from 13 to 15 November 2018, where he met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Prime Minister Lee also chaired the ASEAN – Australia Informal Breakfast Summit on 14 November 2018, which Prime Minister Morrison attended.

  • Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How made a working visit to Australia from 9 to 13 November 2018, in conjunction with the Singapore Armed Force’s joint military exercise with the Australian Defence Force, Exercise Trident.  

  • Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman met Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne on the sidelines of the 30th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Port Moresby on 15 November 2018.
  • Australian Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne made an introductory visit to Singapore from 26 to 28 January 2019. During the visit, he met Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, and was the keynote speaker at the 7th Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting.

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