Acting PM Lawrence Wong at the Joint Press Conference at the 8th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders' Meeting

Remarks by Acting Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at the joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the 8th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders' Meeting at the Istana on 2 June 2023.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon

Let me once again welcome Prime Minister Albanese on his first official visit to Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee is unable to be here today as he has had a case of COVID-19 rebound. I am happy to receive Prime Minister Albanese in my capacity as Acting Prime Minister.

We met before in 2017 when he was here as an LKY Exchange Fellow, so it is good to have the chance to touch base again and take stock of our excellent bilateral relationship.

Our two countries have made significant progress in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) since its establishment in 2015. We have jointly completed more than 110 initiatives across the six pillars of cooperation. Singapore greatly appreciates Australia’s strong and long-standing support for our military training, which has expanded under the CSP.

On the economic front, bilateral trade is going strong, growing by more than 25% last year. This year is also significant because it marks the 20th anniversary of our bilateral FTA.

We are continuing to embark on new areas of cooperation under the CSP. In 2020, we concluded our first bilateral Digital Economy Agreement, and last year, we signed a landmark Green Economy Agreement – the first such agreement for both sides. Since then, we have made very good progress in furthering bilateral cooperation across all the pillars of our CSP.

Prime Minister Albanese and I also exchanged views on geopolitical developments, especially those confronting our region.

Even though this is our first-time meeting to discuss these issues in our current capacities, we had an open, candid and very fruitful discussion. That is because our countries share similar perspectives on regional and international strategic issues.

That includes the importance of an open and inclusive rules-based multilateral order which supports ASEAN Centrality. I welcome the Prime Minister and his government’s efforts to deepen Australia’s engagement with Southeast Asia, including through the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 that Australia is developing, as well as the Special Summit next year to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations, as well as the upgrade of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area.

The close partnership between Australia and Singapore is strong and enduring. As we approach the CSP’s 10th anniversary in 2025, it is timely for us to identify strategic and ambitious new areas of cooperation befitting of two trusted and reliable partners.

We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and his government to bring our bilateral relations to even greater heights. We all look forward to the Prime Minister’s keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue later this evening.

Thank you.