Remarks by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with Australia PM Scott Morrison on 10 June 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening to all
I bid a very warm welcome to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Singapore. I am very happy that he decided to stop over here on the way to G7 in Cornwall, and that we have been able to meet in person after quite a long time.
Naturally, PM Morrison and I discussed the COVID-19 situation. Australia and Singapore have similar approaches to keep the virus out of our populations, and to keep our people safe.
We have strongly supported each other, especially to get through the early days of the pandemic. Our health authorities shared information on the virus. We helped to bring each other’s citizens home from abroad, especially early on when flights were getting cancelled. Singapore Airlines maintained passenger and cargo flights to and from Australia throughout the border closures.
Now, the world is moving into the next phase of the fight, with vaccinations becoming more prevalent, and countries beginning to open up their borders. We discussed how two-way travel between Singapore and Australia can eventually resume, in a safe and calibrated manner, when both sides are ready. Before COVID-19, many Singaporeans travelled to Australia for business, for holidays and to pursue their education, and vice versa. We need to resume these people-to-people flows to maintain our close and excellent bilateral relationship. We need to prepare the infrastructure and processes to get ready to do this. It starts with mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates, possibly in the digital form. When all the preparations are ready, we can start small with an Air Travel Bubble to build confidence on both sides. Relatedly, our health ministries have signed an MOU to collaborate in healthcare and health technologies.
Our overall cooperation has been anchored by our ten-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), which is now at its halfway mark. Both sides have made progress on the five pillars of the CSP: economics and trade, defence and foreign affairs, science and innovation, people-to-people; and last year we added the digital economy as a fifth pillar of our comprehensive strategic partnership.
Last year, in December, our Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development came into force. This was a milestone in our longstanding defence partnership. Singapore greatly appreciates Australia’s generous and sustained support for SAF’s training. Over many years, in many air bases and camps all over Australia.
On the digital economy, we had a bilateral Digital Economy Agreement which also came into force last year. This was the fruit of our forward looking, open and progressive attitudes towards trade and the future economy. Building on the Digital Economy Agreement, PM Morrison and I have agreed to commence discussions to develop a FinTech bridge between our two countries.
In science and innovation, we are exploring collaborations on low-emissions solutions to support our climate change efforts. This is another key domestic priority for both of us, and it includes a public-private partnership on low emissions fuels and technologies for shipping and port operations, based at Nanyang Technological University’s Eco Labs. We are also exploring a broader partnership on a green economy agreement. This will facilitate trade and investment in environmentally sustainable goods and services, and strengthen environmental governance and our capacity to address
Once again, the Prime Minister and I are very happy that we are able to meet again and that our relations have continued to grow and prosper in these challenging times. I look forward to continue working with him and his government to take our relations even further forward and wish him a safe and productive trip to Cornwall in the UK for G7.
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