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Singapore - Foreign Relations

Singapore is nonaligned. It is a member of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, and also of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth. Singapore has participated in UN peacekeeping/observer missions in Kuwait, Angola, Namibia, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste. Singapore supports two Provincial Reconstruction Teams and provides refueling aircraft in support of international efforts in Afghanistan. Singapore strongly supports regional and international anti-piracy efforts, and has undertaken a leadership role in anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. Singapore supports the concept of Southeast Asian regionalism and plays an active role in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

The United States has maintained formal diplomatic relations with Singapore since it became independent in 1965. Singapore's efforts to maintain economic growth and political stability and its support for regional cooperation harmonize with U.S. policy in the region and form a solid basis for amicable relations between the two countries. The United States and Singapore signed a bilateral free trade agreement on May 6, 2003; the agreement entered into force on January 1, 2004. The growth of U.S. investment in Singapore and the large number of Americans living there enhance opportunities for contact between Singapore and the United States. Many Singaporeans visit and study in the United States. Singapore is a Visa Waiver Program country.

The U.S. Government sponsors visitors from Singapore each year under the International Visitor Program. The U.S. Government provides Fulbright awards to enable selected American professors to teach or conduct research at the National University of Singapore and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. It awards scholarships to outstanding Singaporean students for graduate studies at American universities and to American students to study in Singapore. The U.S. Government also sponsors occasional cultural presentations in Singapore. The East-West Center and private American organizations, such as the Asia and Ford Foundations, also sponsor exchanges involving Singaporeans.

Singapore-Japan relations have deepened and broadened over the past few years. The signing of the Japan-Singapore Economic Agreement for a New Age Partnership (JESPA) by the two Prime Ministers in January 2002 marked a milestone in our bilateral relations. The JESPA Review Supervisory Committee Meeting was concluded successfully on 12 January 2007. Japan Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made a successful State Visit to Singapore in June 2006. Reciprocating this visit, President and Mrs S R Nathan made the first-ever State Visit to Japan in May 2009. During Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's visit to Singapore in November 2009, PM Hatoyama and PM Lee launched the Japan Creative Centre.

Japan was Singapore's sixth largest trade partner in 2009. Singapore and Japan share many interests in regional issues such as the security situation in the Asia-Pacific, maintaining the freedom and safety of navigation in the international sea lanes of Southeast Asia, and promoting regional dialogue mechanisms of the Asia-Pacific region. Both countries are also working together under the Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century (JSPP21) to provide technical assistance to third countries. Bilateral cooperation has also been expanded to include cooperation to combat diseases, such as SARS and avian influenza, and joint anti-piracy exercises between the coast guards of the two countries.

Singapore enjoys close and multi-faceted relations with the PRC. Bilateral relations are broad-based, spanning beyond economics and politics to education, culture and science and technology. To take stock of our cooperation and to build on the current foundation, both countries have set up the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) to bring all our bilateral cooperation under one roof. Both countries also enjoy close cooperation in regional and international fora. Singapore leaders enjoy warm working relationships with their Chinese counterparts and maintain regular high-level exchanges with the PRC. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew all made separate visits to China in 2009. A key highlight in 2009 was President Hu Jintao's inaugural State Visit to Singapore, in conjunction with the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM), in November. People-to-people exchanges were supplemented by programmes such as the PSD-COD Forum on Leadership Selection and Development, Chinese Mayors' Study Visit Programme, Senior Chinese Officials Study Visit Programme and the Sino-Singapore Undergraduate Exchange Programme.

Bilateral economic ties are strong. China is currently Singapore's 3rd largest trading partner. Singapore is also one of China's top trading partners and investors. The China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) came into effect in January 2009. The CSFTA is the first comprehensive bilateral FTA that China has concluded with an Asian country. With the conclusion of the CSFTA, the economies of both countries are expected to further benefit from the enhanced liberalisation in goods, services and investments. The FTA is also expected to contribute to regional economic integration by injecting additional momentum into the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City - Singapore's two flagship projects in the PRC - anchors the close bilateral cooperation between Singapore and China. The seven provincial business councils Singapore has in Sichuan, Shandong, Lianoning, Zhejiang, Tianjin, Guangdong and Jiangsu underscore our cooperation with China in its regional development.

Singapore and Indonesia enjoy warm and friendly ties. Our mutually beneficial economic links are also very strong. In 2008, Singapore was Indonesia's second-largest foreign investor with investments totalling US$1.5 billion amounting to approximately 10% of Indonesia's Foreign Direct Investments in 2008. Singapore and Indonesia have also consistently ranked among each others' top sources of visitor arrivals. In 2008, Singapore accounted for 1.2 million visitors to Indonesia and Indonesia contributed 1.75 million visitors to Singapore. Leaders and Ministers know each other well and they work closely together bilaterally, and at international fora such as ASEAN, to advance common interests.

Singapore has also contributed significant humanitarian assistance in cash and in kind to Indonesia during major natural disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami disaster, the 2006 Central Java earthquake, and the Jakarta floods in 2007. More recently during the Padang earthquake in September 2009, Singapore was one of the first countries to despatch a rescue contingent with relief supplies to the affected areas. Singapore and Indonesia are also cooperating to stop the spread of Avian Influenza and combat the problem of transboundary smoke haze. In July 2009, Singapore handed over two air and weather monitoring stations to the Jambi government under the Singapore-Indonesia collaboration project on the prevention of forest fires in Jambi province.

Relations between Singapore and Malaysia are characterised by a high degree of economic and social inter-dependence. In 2008, Malaysia was Singapore's largest trading partner with with bilateral trade amounting to $111.5 billion. Bilateral trade as of November 2009 amounted to over $75 billion. Singapore's investment in Malaysia rose by 11.8% to reach $21.2 billion as at end 2007. Singapore and Malaysia have always placed emphasis on developing people-to-people exchanges. It is thus not surprising that Singapore and Malaysia have consistently ranked among each others' top sources of visitor arrivals. Singapore believes that the positive state of bilateral relations between the two countries can be further enhanced by predicating the relationship on mutual respect, mutual benefit and adherence to international law and agreements. Notwithstanding occasional disagreements, which are inevitable between close neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia have continued to cooperate in innumerable areas of common interest. To this effect, Singapore is committed to the continued development of bilateral relations with Malaysia.

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Page last modified: 16-02-2013 18:52:03 ZULU