Australia-Singapore Annual Leaders' Meeting Joint Statement

Media statement
18 Oct 2022
Prime Minister, Prime Minister of Singapore
  1. The Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Anthony Albanese MP and the Prime Minister of Singapore, His Excellency Lee Hsien Loong met for the 7th Australia-Singapore Annual Leaders’ Meeting in Canberra on 18 October 2022. The Prime Ministers welcomed the strength and depth of bilateral relations between the two countries, anchored in shared strategic and economic interests. They reaffirmed the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) as a broad, constructive and forward-looking framework that has delivered more than 80 joint initiatives since its inception in 2015. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their ambition and strong commitment to strengthen the CSP.
  2. The Prime Ministers agreed to deepen cooperation to support ambitious action on climate change. They endorsed ‘Green Economy’ as the 6th pillar of the CSP. They also welcomed the signing of a landmark Green Economy Agreement (GEA) which supports our two economies’ transition to net-zero emissions whilst promoting trade and investment in environmental goods and services. The Prime Ministers acknowledged that the GEA is an ambitious and first-of-its-kind agreement that advances our trade, economic, investment and climate change objectives. They welcomed 17 joint initiatives under the GEA, which signified commitment to early implementation and marked many more initiatives to come. This included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Trade and Investment Commission and Enterprise Singapore to facilitate business partnerships in priority green economy sectors. The Prime Ministers agreed that the GEA would serve as a pathfinder and model for international cooperation on trade and transition to net-zero economies.
  3. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to upholding a free, open, non-discriminatory, inclusive, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system, and agreed to continue to work closely to strengthen and reform the World Trade Organization. They acknowledged that resilient global supply chains reinforced our mutual prosperity, security, and wellbeing, and that this required countries to maintain open and predictable trade links to effectively respond to emerging disruptions. To this end, they welcomed the establishment of the bilateral Supply Chains Working Group in September 2022 which will explore opportunities to strengthen trade between both markets, including in the areas of food, energy, and connectivity. The Prime Ministers agreed to begin work on a bilateral Food Pact to support enhanced supply chain resilience and greater flows in trade and investments of Australian and Singapore food supply.
  4. The Prime Ministers welcomed the depth of our longstanding defence and security cooperation. They acknowledged progress under the Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development and noted the success of our signature bilateral exercise, Exercise Trident 2022, and the return to pre-COVID levels of Exercise Wallaby 2022, a key force generation exercise for the Singapore Armed Forces. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements which have served the region well for over 50 years. Prime Minister Albanese thanked Singapore for its continued support to Australian Defence Force aircraft and ships operating in the region. He also extended Australia’s appreciation for Singapore’s contribution to Operation Flood Assist 2022.
  5. The Prime Ministers discussed advancing security cooperation including on counter-terrorism, cybersecurity and border security. They acknowledged the importance of countering the threat of foreign interference, including disinformation and misinformation. They also discussed opportunities to strengthen information exchange and cooperation to protect our citizens in the digital space, including through a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Enforcement of Laws on Certain Unsolicited Communications signed in July 2022.
  6. The Prime Ministers recognised that cooperation in science and innovation plays an integral role in underpinning resilience and future prosperity. They acknowledged a new Synchrotron Access Agreement between the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and National University of Singapore that will expand Singapore’s current synchrotron capabilities and increase collaboration and research between scientists. The Prime Ministers also welcomed the signing of a Master Research Collaboration Agreement between their respective national science agencies to strengthen collaboration and support joint research and development.
  7. The Prime Ministers underlined the importance of an open, inclusive, rules-based and resilient Indo-Pacific region, which supports and promotes free trade and open markets and respects the rights of countries to lead their national existence free from external interference, subversion and coercion. They reaffirmed the central role of ASEAN and the ASEAN-led architecture, and importance of working together to support practical implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including through the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Prime Ministers shared their concerns on developments in Myanmar and called for an immediate cessation of violence, the release of all political detainees, the release of Australian Professor Sean Turnell, and inclusive dialogue between all parties. They reaffirmed the important roles of the UN, ASEAN and its external partners in facilitating a peaceful solution in Myanmar. They called for the immediate and full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus adopted at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April 2021.
  8. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed Australia and Singapore’s commitment to work together to build an Indo-Pacific region of dialogue and cooperation, and exchanged assessments on the interconnected regional and global challenges threatening the international rules-based order. They noted with deep concern Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine in violation of international law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. They underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and encouraged the peaceful resolution of disputes. The Prime Ministers expressed their concerns about actions that could destabilise the region and reiterated their opposition to unilateral actions that change the status quo. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to maintain and promote security and stability in the South China Sea and underscored their strong support for freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded trade, and emphasised the need for the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They emphasised the primacy of UNCLOS, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that all States must be able to exercise their rights and freedoms under UNCLOS without fear of intimidation or harassment. They committed to working with partners to support States to uphold their obligations under UNCLOS. Leaders acknowledged work towards a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and emphasised the importance of the Code being consistent with international law, particularly UNCLOS, and not prejudicial to the legitimate rights and interests of other States under the UNCLOS.