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History and Milestones



The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was established on August 1965 when Singapore gained independence. The following are some milestone events:

9 August 1965 Independence of Singapore. Formation of MFA. Mr S Rajaratnam is appointed Singapore’s first Foreign Minister.
21 September 1965 Singapore is admitted as the 117th member of the United Nations.
15 October 1965 Singapore is admitted as the 22nd member of the Commonwealth.
17 January 1966 Singapore signs the convention on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and becomes a member of the IMO.
3 August 1966 Singapore officially becomes the 104th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
8 August 1967 Founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ASEAN Declaration is signed in Bangkok.

September 1970 Singapore is admitted into the Non-Aligned Movement.
14 to 22 January 1971 Singapore hosts the 18th Conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
15 to 16 April 1971 Ministers of the governments of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom establish a new defence mechanism called the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).
18 to 19 February 1972 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, makes her first State Visit to Singapore.
20 July 1973 Singapore joins the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
23 to 24 February 1976 The first ASEAN Summit is held in Bali, Indonesia. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia is signed by all ASEAN Heads of State and Government. An ASEAN Secretariat is also established.
1978 A watershed year for ASEAN marked by its official recognition as an important regional organisation by the major powers. The first minister-level meetings of the ASEAN-US dialogue are held in August 1978 and the ASEAN-EEC dialogue takes place in November 1978.

1 June 1980 Mr S Dhanabalan becomes Foreign Minister.
March 1981 Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Tommy Koh, assumes the Presidency of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
13 September 1988 Mr Wong Kan Seng becomes Foreign Minister.
6 to 7 November 1989 Singapore joins the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and attends the grouping’s first Ministerial Meeting held in Canberra, Australia.

1992 Launch of the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
January 1992 Singapore hosts the 4th ASEAN Summit, which agrees to launch the ASEAN Free Trade Area.
11 February 1993 The APEC Secretariat is established in Singapore.
27 to 29 April 1993 Singapore hosts a landmark cross-strait meeting between the Chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Mr Wang Daohan and the Chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Mr Koo Chen-fu, also known as the “Wang-Koo talks”.
1994 ASEAN creates the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
2 January 1994 Prof S Jayakumar becomes Foreign Minister.
26 February 1994 Singapore and China sign the Agreement on the Joint Development of Suzhou Industrial Township.
1 September 1999 Singapore hosts the inaugural meeting of the East Asia-Latin America Forum (EALAF) for senior officials of the 27 participating countries. (The EALAF was renamed the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) in 2001.)

2000 Singapore launches the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) to assist the integration of new member countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), into ASEAN. The flagship project is the setting up of a training center in each of the CLMV countries.
10 October 2000 Singapore is elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) at the 55th session of the UN General Assembly.
14 November 2000 Singapore signs the Agreement between New Zealand and Singapore on a Closer Economic Partnership (ANZSCEP). It is Singapore’s first bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
1 January 2001 Singapore starts its first two-year term in the United Nations Security Council.
13 January 2002 Singapore and Japan sign the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA).  This is Japan’s first bilateral EPA and Singapore’s first with a major trading partner.
26 June 2002 Singapore concludes an FTA with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is the first FTA between an European regional grouping and an Asian country.
6 May 2003 Singapore concludes and signs the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA). This is the first FTA between the US and an East Asian country.
7 October 2003 The 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali agrees to establish an ASEAN Community.
13 August 2004 Mr George Yeo becomes Foreign Minister.
28 April 2005 Singapore signs the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
20 to 22 June 2005 Singapore hosts the inaugural Asia-Middle East Dialogue (AMED).
29 June 2005 Singapore signs the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)with India. It is India’s first ever CECA, and Singapore’s first comprehensive bilateral economic agreement with a South Asian economy.
4 August 2005 Singapore and the Republic of Korea sign the Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA).  This is the Republic of Korea’s first FTA with an Asian country.
17 November 2005 ASEAN and the US issue the Joint Vision Statement to launch the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership.
19 to 20 September 2006 Singapore hosts the IMF-World Bank Meetings.
14 January 2007 ASEAN signs the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
15 January 2007 ASEAN signs a Free Trade Agreement in services with China.
4 to 6 September 2007 Singapore hosts the IMO Meeting which establishes the Co-operative Mechanism for Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
18 November 2007 Singapore and China sign the Framework Agreement on the Development of An Eco-City in the People’s Republic of China.
18 to 21 November 2007 Singapore hosts the 13th ASEAN Summit. During the Summit, ASEAN Leaders sign the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. With the Charter, ASEAN moves a step closer towards becoming a more rulesbased and effective regional grouping, while the Blueprint guides ASEAN towards the realisation of a single market and production base by 2015.
7 January 2008 Singapore is the first ASEAN country to ratify the ASEAN Charter.
23 May 2008
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awards the sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore.
May 2008 In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, Singapore, as ASEAN Chair, helps form the Myanmar-ASEAN-UN “Tripartite Core Group”.  Singapore also facilitates the delivery of international humanitarian aid to the Cyclone victims.
23 October 2008 Singapore and the People’s Republic of China sign the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA).
15 December 2008 The ASEAN Charter officially enters into force at a special gathering of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers held at the ASEAN Secretariat.

10 March 2009


Singapore and Indonesia sign treaty related to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Western Part of the Strait of Singapore.
9 May 2009
President S R Nathan’s State Visit to Japan. This is the first State Visit by a Singapore President to Japan.
2 August 2009
MFA launches new eRegister portal.
8 November 2009
Singapore hosts APEC 2009, followed by the 1st ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting.

11 January 2010

MFA launches its Twitter account @MFAsg.

12 to 13 April 2010

Singapore attends the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC.

27 September 2010

Singapore and Russia sign the Agreement of the Establishment of the Russia-Singapore High-Level Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC).  The idea to set up IGC was mooted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his State Visit to Singapore in November 2009.

11 to 12 November 2010

Singapore attends the G20 Summit held in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This is the first time Singapore is invited to participate in the G20 Summit as a guest country.

21 May 2011

Mr K Shanmugam becomes Minister (Foreign Affairs).

17 June 2011

MFA Consular launches its Twitter Feed @MFASgConsular.

1 July 2011

Singapore and Malaysia fully implement the Points of Agreement on Malayan Railway Land in Singapore.

31 August 2011

Singapore hands over the waterworks under the 1961 Water Agreement to the Johor water authorities upon the expiry of the 1961 Water Agreement on 31 August 2011.

22 September 2011

Singapore concludes its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) with the adoption of Singapore’s National Report at the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

12 July 2012

Minister (Foreign Affairs and Law) K Shanmugam and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Singapore-United States Third Country Training Programme.

22 August 2012

MFA Consular launches its smartphone app MFA@SG.

18 October 2012

Singapore and France sign the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership during French Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault’s official visit to Singapore.

29 November 2012

20th anniversary of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) and launch of the S R Nathan Fellowship.

15 May 2013

Singapore is granted observership in the Arctic Council.

21 April 2014

Singapore and Guangdong sign a Memorandum of Understanding for senior officials from Guangdong province to attend customised Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) courses in Singapore.

3 September 2014

Singapore and Indonesia sign the Treaty between Indonesia and Singapore Relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore.

4 September 2014

Singapore announces a Technical Cooperation Package for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) comprising priority places in Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) courses, customised programmes, and fellowships in civil aviation and maritime courses.

20 to 25 October 2014

President Tony Tan Keng Yam's State Visit to the UK.  This is the first State Visit by a Singapore President to the UK.

26 January 2015

Second Minister (Foreign Affairs) Grace Fu and Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the Singapore-IAEA Third Country Training Programme.

17 to 23 May 2015

State Visit by President Tony Tan Keng Yam to France to commemorate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Singapore and France.

29 June 2015

Singapore and Australia sign the Joint Declaration on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

1 July 2015

The Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) welcomes its 100,000th participant.

4 July 2015

Singapore Botanic Gardens inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

5 August 2015

Minister (Foreign Affairs and Law) K Shanmugam and US Secretary of State John Kerry renew the Memorandum of Understanding on the Singapore-United States Third Country Training Programme.

28 September 2015

Minister (Environment and Water Resources) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan announces Singapore’s Sustainable Development Programme at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.

1 October 2015

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan becomes Foreign Minister.

7 November 2015

Singapore and People’s Republic of China sign the Framework Agreement on the Development of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.

7 November 2015

Singapore hosts historic cross-strait talks between the top Leaders from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, President of the People’s Republic of China Mr Xi Jinping and President of the Republic of China Mr Ma Ying-jeou, also known as the “Xi-Ma meeting”.

14 November 2015

Singapore and Turkey sign the Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

31 December 2015

ASEAN Leaders declare the establishment of the ASEAN Community at the 27th ASEAN Summit..

4 February 2016

Singapore signs the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other TPP Parties.

20 April 2016

Singapore announces an Enhanced Technical Assistance Package for the Palestinian National Authority focused primarily at capacity building in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

9 June 2016

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launches the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI) in Yangon, Myanmar.

19 July 2016

Singapore and Malaysia sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

31 July to 3 August 2016

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to the United States at the invitation of President Barack Obama.  This is the first Official Visit with State Dinner hosted for a Singapore Prime Minister in 31 years.

21 September 2016

Singapore deposits its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

18 October 2016

Singapore and UN-Habitat sign a Memorandum of Understanding to develop international capacity development programmes.

28 November to 6 December 2016

State Visit by President Tony Tan Keng Yam to Japan, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan.

13 December 2016

Singapore and Malaysia sign the Agreement on the Kuala-Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project.

10 February 2017

Singapore and Indonesia exchanged the Instruments of Ratification for the Treaty between the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore Relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore.

20 to 24 February 2017

Visit to Singapore by a bipartisan US Congressional Delegation led by Congressional Singapore Caucus Co-Chairs Bradley Byrne and Denny Heck.

15 March 2017

Launch of the US-Singapore Summer Exchange Scholarship Programme.

26 to 27 March 2017

French President Francois Hollande made the first State Visit to Singapore.

8 June 2017

The Government of Mongolia waived the visa facility for Singaporean nationals entering Mongolia. Singapore nationals travelling to Mongolia for tourism or business, for a stay of up to 30 days, will be exempted from applying for a visa.