Singapore and Australia will boost science and innovation cooperation by supporting research and scientific bodies through matching funding as the two countries concluded discussions on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Friday.
MFA said that Singapore and Australia have concluded "a landmark agreement" to deepen economic integration, expand defence cooperation, jointly promote innovation and entrepreneurship as well as strengthen people-to-people ties by facilitating tourism, cultural exchanges and educational opportunities.
The unprecedented agreement builds on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), which was first announced by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in June, 2015.
MFA said Lee and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reaffirmed the strength of bilateral relations based on strategic convergence and economic complementarities earlier in the week. They were pleased that the CSP and the successful negotiations for this agreement set out a long-term vision and roadmap for a major upgrade across all aspects of bilateral relations.
A key outcome of the agreement is Singapore and Australia agreed to update and modernize the Singapore Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which was signed in 2003. As part of the Third Review of the SAFTA, both countries will adopt a package of measures to increase trade and investment flows, said MFA.
Australia decided to establish one of its five "landing pad" in Singapore to facilitate high tech Australian startups. MFA said that greater cooperation with Australia will reinforce Singapore's role as an international hub for innovation and the creative industries.
As for defence cooperation, Singapore and Australia have also agreed to jointly develop more military training areas and facilities in Australia. Both sides will also enhance military personnel exchanges and initiate civilian personnel exchanges, as well as intelligence and information sharing.
According to the statement, a Track 1.5 Dialogue will be launched in late-2016 to discuss regional and security issues.
On people-to-people links, Singaporeans will soon enjoy improved terms of entry into Australia through the implementation of multi-year visa arrangements.
In addition, the two countries have agreed to strengthen youth exchanges with the adoption of a 12 month arrangement that will allow Singaporean and Australian youth to travel to and do short-term work in each other's countries. New exchanges between teachers of Australian and Singaporean schools will also come into effect.
MFA stated the agreement adopted by Singapore and Australia is a major upgrade of the existing strong ties between the governments and peoples of both countries.
"I am delighted that we have concluded this landmark agreement with Australia. It is a win-win deal that will cement relations and benefit Australians and Singaporeans for years to come." said Lee in the statement.