PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with New Zealand PM Christopher Luxon (Apr 2024)

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 15 April 2024

Transcript of the opening remarks by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the joint press conference with Prime Minister of New Zealand Christopher Luxon on 15 April 2024.


Prime Minister Christopher Luxon
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Kia ora and good afternoon to everybody.

Welcome Prime Minister Luxon to Singapore. I am very happy that he has made Singapore his second overseas visit since taking office, just 150 days ago. I am also very glad to see him again so soon after we met in Melbourne on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.

The Prime Minister and I reviewed our excellent bilateral relations this morning. This year is the fifth anniversary of the Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership. Across the five pillars of the Enhanced Partnership, all 34 initiatives have made good progress. We appreciate New Zealand’s longstanding support for the Singapore Armed Forces’ military training in Waiouru, and we look forward to the next edition of Exercise Thunder Warrior in 2025. We are pursuing concrete cooperation under the “Climate Change and Green Economy” pillar of the Enhanced Partnership, which we added in 2022, including in sustainable aviation and low carbon solutions. We also have the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, which Singapore and New Zealand were founding members of, and the queue of aspirant economies to the deeper testifies to its value and traction. We are also exploring collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation, including in Data Science and Future Foods.

Today, we are expanding our Enhanced Partnership again by adding a sixth pillar, which will be on “Supply Chains and Connectivity”. As small states, Singapore and New Zealand share a deep understanding of the importance of maintaining supply chain connectivity, especially in times of crisis. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when borders were shut and supply chains were disrupted, we supported each other. We formed an air freight partnership which brought 100 tonnes of food from New Zealand to Singapore, and brought essential medical supplies from Singapore to New Zealand. The new pillar on “Supply Chains and Connectivity” reflects our continuing commitment to keep our supply chains connected in a volatile global environment. We agreed to begin formal negotiations on an Agreement on Trade in Essential Supplies, to facilitate trade in essential items, and minimise disruptions during crises. We also signed two MOUs on electronic invoicing and trade facilitation, which will boost trade links and strengthen cooperation under our Digital Economy Partnership Agreement.

There is of course much more that our two countries can do together and we should do together. The Prime Minister and I therefore agreed that it will be timely next year, the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, to elevate the Enhanced Partnership further. And we will explore future-oriented initiatives in areas such as sustainable aviation, the green economy and supply chains.

We also discussed regional and geopolitical developments. We agreed on the importance of an open and inclusive rules-based multilateral order which supports ASEAN Centrality. I welcome efforts by the Prime Minister and his government to deepen New Zealand’s engagement with Southeast Asia and ASEAN. New Zealand can contribute much to ASEAN’s integration in the digital and green economies. And between ASEAN and New Zealand, we look forward to commemorating 50 years of Dialogue Relations next year. I am happy that the Prime Minister has brought along a big business delegation to explore further economic opportunities. I understand that they are having a gala dinner this evening, and I am sure that over the wine and the food, many new business opportunities will pop up.

So once again, I am happy to host the Prime Minister in Singapore and look forward to working with him and his government to take the bilateral relationship to greater heights.

Thank you.