PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (April 2022)

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 19 April 2022

Transcript of speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the joint press conference with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern on 19 April 2022.

The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Kia ora and good afternoon.

Welcome Prime Minister Ardern back to Singapore. I am very happy that she has made Singapore her first overseas visit since the onset of COVID-19, and we are able to meet in person after such a long time

Prime Minister Ardern and I reviewed our excellent bilateral relations today. Three years ago in this room, the two of us signed a Joint Declaration to establish an Enhanced Partnership between Singapore and New Zealand. It was a significant milestone for our bilateral cooperation. I am very happy that all the initiatives under the Enhanced Partnership have made good progress. Our upgraded bilateral FTA came into force in January 2020. We have jointly funded research projects in Data Science and Future Foods. We have agreed to launch a new reciprocal Working Holiday Scheme that will allow young Singaporeans and New Zealanders to live and work in each other’s countries for up to a year.

Our cooperation has grown beyond the areas under the Enhanced Partnership. Together with Chile, we launched the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), the first agreement of its kind. The Prime Minister Ardern and I first mooted the idea when we met in November 2018. Glad that the DEPA has entered into force in January 2021, and now other countries have also asked to join. We welcome their interest, and we hope to be able to work together to advance a global digital economy.

Today, we are expanding our cooperation further, by adding a new “Climate Change and Green Economy” pillar of the Enhanced Partnership. Climate change is the existential challenge of our times. Singapore and New Zealand share similar perspectives on it. We need stronger cooperation amongst countries to protect the most vulnerable peoples and places on our planet. At the same time, we see opportunities for practical collaboration as we adopt low-carbon and green technologies. This new pillar of cooperation reflects our shared commitment to implement the Paris Agreement and work together to seize growth opportunities in the green economy. For a start, we will cooperate on areas like energy transition technology, carbon markets, sustainable transport, and waste management.

I also discussed with Prime Minister Ardern regional and international developments. We agreed on the importance of an open and inclusive regional architecture that supports ASEAN centrality. We are both staunch supporters of international law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and that is why both Singapore and New Zealand have strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The geopolitical uncertainties, supply-chain vulnerabilities and rising protectionism make it all the more important for countries to work together to find a path forward and identify win-win opportunities. In this endeavour, Singapore and New Zealand are natural partners.

So once again, I am very glad to meet Prime Minister Ardern, and look forward to working with her to further strengthen our excellent relations between Singapore and New Zealand.