Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held the 5th Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting via videoconference on 23 March 2020. The annual Leaders’ Meeting was established under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) for the Prime Ministers of both countries to discuss bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international developments. This year, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the two Prime Ministers decided to hold the Leaders’ Meeting virtually via videoconference. This virtual meeting shows that in this digital age, government-to-government business can continue despite the adverse circumstances. It also reflects the shared commitment to advance bilateral relations, even as both sides deal with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations and reviewed the good progress on the wide-ranging cooperation under the CSP since its establishment in 2015. They expressed their joint commitment to deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in all areas. In particular, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the conclusion of several key agreements in conjunction with the Leaders’ Meeting. First, they witnessed the signing of the Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development, which is a key deliverable of the CSP. Second, they announced the conclusion of negotiations of a bilateral Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), and seven MOUs under the ambit of the DEA. They also agreed to establish a new “Digital Economy” pillar under the CSP to supplement the existing four pillars. Third, they welcomed the signing of MOUs on cybersecurity, as well as food safety and standards.
The two Prime Ministers also discussed new areas of bilateral cooperation. They agreed that there was potential to collaborate further in low-emissions solutions and agreed to conclude a MOU in 2020.
In addition to bilateral cooperation, the two leaders also exchanged views on key regional and global developments. They noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was a serious public health crisis and agreed to continue sharing best practices to tackle the pandemic. They also agreed on the importance of keeping markets open and supply chains functioning to support the delivery of supplies essential for dealing with the pandemic.
Following the Leaders’ Meeting, the two Prime Ministers issued a Joint Statement on the outcomes of the meeting. The full text of the Joint Statement is appended.
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
23 MARCH 2020
. . . . .
Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers of Australia and Singapore
The Australia-Singapore Virtual Annual Leaders’ Meeting was convened via video conference between Canberra and Singapore on 23 March 2020. The Honourable Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia, and His Excellency Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, agreed to expand the two countries’ strong bilateral relationship and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in several areas of common interest. At a time of global uncertainty, Australia and Singapore both offer a model of good governance and productive international cooperation. In light of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, this Virtual Annual Leaders’ Meeting demonstrated the conviction of Australia and Singapore to continue with government-to-government business, and uphold the excellent momentum of our CSP, even as we each deal with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic at home.
For the Government of Australia: The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister
For the Government of Singapore: His Excellency Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister