Joint Statement for the 8th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders' meeting

Media statement
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister
  1. Acting Prime Minister of Singapore, His Excellency Lawrence Wong and Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Anthony Albanese MP met for the 8th Singapore-Australia Annual Leaders’ Meeting in Singapore on 2 June 2023. The Leaders reaffirmed the longstanding and close partnership between Singapore and Australia, anchored on mutual trust, respect, and shared strategic perspectives. They welcomed the robust and multifaceted cooperation under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) which has served as a constructive and forward-looking framework that has delivered more than 110 joint initiatives across its six pillars of cooperation: economics, trade and investment; foreign affairs, defence and security; science and innovation; people-to-people links; digital economy; and green economy. The Leaders committed to continue strengthening the CSP which has enabled both countries to be pathfinders in frontier areas of cooperation such as the digital and green economies.
  2. The Leaders acknowledged the swift implementation of the landmark Green Economy Agreement (GEA) since its signing during the last Annual Leaders’ Meeting in October 2022 and noted the good progress made on key initiatives. Under the GEA, the Leaders:
    1. Launched the joint A$20 million Go-Green Co-Innovation Program, to provide grants over a four-year period to drive co-innovation between Singaporean and Australian small and medium enterprises to develop green products and services, and noted the program’s commencement with business matching activities in the lead up to grant applications opening later in 2023;
    2. Agreed to establish a Green and Digital Shipping Corridor (GDSC) by the end of 2025 to help decarbonise and digitalise the port and shipping industry, including through establishing low and zero-carbon fuel supply chains and digital solutions to facilitate paperless handling between the ports of Singapore and Australia. Arrangements overseeing the establishment of the GDSC will be outlined by our lead authorities in a separate Memorandum of Understanding;
    3. Announced the launch of the S$5 million Convergence Asia Climate Solutions Design Grant, to support the design and launch of innovative blended finance solutions that mobilise private capital to sectors critical for climate transition and resilience in Asia, such as clean energy, sustainable cities and infrastructure, and nature-based solutions. The grant has secured funding commitments from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Olayan Group, and UBS Optimus Foundation; and
    4. Welcomed progress across other GEA areas of cooperation including work to develop skills and capabilities in the green economy workforce, build the architecture to support cross border electricity trade and promote eco-labelling.
  3. The Leaders reaffirmed their support for the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, which provides the predictability and stability our region relies on for growth and development. They committed to continue to work together to strengthen and reform the WTO, including the dispute settlement system. The Leaders reaffirmed the importance of maintaining open and predictable trade links and developing resilient global supply chains for mutual prosperity and growth in an increasingly volatile geopolitical environment.
  4. The Leaders noted the good progress made by the bilateral Supply Chains Working Group established in September 2022 in strengthening cooperation in the areas of food, energy security, as well as connectivity and crisis response. Following their agreement at the last Annual Leaders’ Meeting to begin work on a bilateral Food Pact, the Leaders welcomed the finalisation of the guiding principles and workplan for the Food Pact. They welcomed cooperation between the Singapore Food Agency and Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to improve transshipment flows for Australian food and food products through Singapore to the wider region. They were pleased to note the food sourcing mission from Singapore to Australia in May 2023 for Singapore importers to connect with Australian meat producers. The Leaders also acknowledged the progress on long-term commercial partnerships for import of chilled chicken from Australia to Singapore. The Leaders looked forward to working collaboratively under the Food Pact to continue to increase the trade of food products.
  5. Acting Prime Minister Wong welcomed Prime Minister Albanese’s assurances that Australia is committed to remaining a reliable supplier of energy to Singapore, including gas, as we all transition to a net zero world. The Leaders further agreed that Singapore and Australia should explore ways to expand collaboration on energy security and clean energy development. The Leaders looked forward to further discussions to strengthen cooperation on connectivity and crisis response to secure open and connected supply chains and strengthen linkages to the rest of the world.
  6. The Leaders underscored the value of the longstanding defence and security cooperation between Singapore and Australia which has deepened under the CSP and contributes to a stable and peaceful region. The Leaders acknowledged continued progress on the joint development of the training areas under the Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development signed in March 2020 and looked forward to the timely completion of works at Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Greenvale Training Area. The Leaders welcomed further opportunities to expand Singapore’s training in Australia.
  7. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements which has served as a constructive platform for defence cooperation in the region for more than 50 years. Prime Minister Albanese thanked Acting Prime Minister Wong for Singapore’s continued support for Australian aircraft and ships in the region, and for its offer for Australia’s conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines to conduct port visits, once delivered. They looked forward to commemorating the 30th and 25th anniversaries of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s training at Pearce and Oakey respectively this year. On security cooperation, the Leaders noted the strong ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber security, border security, and emergency management.
  8. The Leaders noted the strong science and innovation collaboration between both countries. They welcomed closer R&D cooperation in areas such as food innovation and digital technologies, including through the Master Research Collaboration Agreement between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore (A*STAR) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) under which a new five-year Research-Industry “2+2” Partnership is being implemented. They acknowledged progress under the Synchrotron Access Agreement between the National University of Singapore and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The Leaders acknowledged that exploring feasible forms of low emissions solutions and clean energy is crucial to mitigate the shared existential threat of climate change. They further welcomed the joint exploratory projects on the export of low carbon hydrogen and renewable electricity, co-design of an Australia-Singapore low emissions technology initiative for the ports and maritime sector, as well as carbon capture and storage under the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Low-Emissions Solutions signed in October 2020.
  9. The Leaders underlined that strong people-to-people ties is a hallmark of the bilateral relationship. They noted that cooperation on arts and culture has continued to grow and strengthen with a focus on creative collaboration, cultural exchange and skills development. The Leaders acknowledged the extension of the Australia-Singapore Arts Group (ASAG) for a second term until 2025 to facilitate the continued promotion of capability development, skills exchanges and joint project development between artists and cultural institutions on both sides, with a stronger focus on expanding collaborations with regional partners. The Leaders welcomed the commitment to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the Singapore National Arts Council and the Australia Council for the Arts (soon to be Creative Australia) to foster greater cultural and artistic exchanges to be finalised in August 2023.
  10. The Leaders affirmed that the CSP has been instrumental in strengthening familiarity and trust, deepening existing areas of cooperation, and catalysing new collaborations between the two countries over the past decade. As the CSP approaches its 10th anniversary in 2025, the Leaders agreed that bilateral cooperation under the next phase of the CSP should be ambitious, strategic and dynamic, and looked forward to the charting of the agenda for the next chapter of Singapore-Australia relations.   
  11. The Leaders exchanged views on regional and global developments. They reaffirmed the central role of ASEAN and the ASEAN-led regional architecture and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to support practical implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including through the ambitious ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Leaders agreed that through the CSP, Australia would work with ASEAN to strengthen cooperation on key and emerging areas such as the digital and green economies, and energy security. Acting Prime Minister Wong looked forward to Australia’s hosting of a Special Summit to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations on 4-6 March 2024. The Leaders looked forward to working together to support Timor-Leste to build capacity in line with the objective, criteria-based ASEAN roadmap for Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN adopted at the 42nd ASEAN Summit last month. The Leaders welcomed the Upgrade of the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), and were pleased to note the progress made on implementing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Acting Prime Minister Wong welcomed Australia’s continued commitment to deepen its economic engagement with Southeast Asia, including through Australia’s forthcoming Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 led by Special Envoy Nicholas Moore. The Leaders committed to ongoing cooperation on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to preserve and advance its high standards and consensus-based approach.
  12. The Leaders discussed the importance of working closely with partners in Southeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region to ensure the region remains open, stable and prosperous. They welcomed the Quad’s support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, including the Quad’s agenda to support Indo-Pacific countries’ priorities and needs.
  13. The Leaders acknowledged that Australia and Singapore faced an era of heightened geostrategic uncertainty and threats to the international rules-based order. They 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 noted the importance of working together to promote peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region, reiterated their opposition to unilateral actions that change the status quo, and emphasised the importance of diplomacy to avoid the risks of miscalculation. The Leaders 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. They committed to working with partners to support States to uphold their obligations under UNCLOS. The Leaders noted 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 of all States under the UNCLOS. They welcomed the conclusion of the high seas treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction and acknowledged Singapore’s leading role as President and Australia’s constructive engagement.
  14. The Leaders noted with deep concern the worsening humanitarian, security and economic situation in Myanmar, including the military’s increasing use of violence against civilians and recent air strikes carried out by the Myanmar Armed Forces. They strongly condemned the attack on the ASEAN humanitarian convoy in Shan State in May 2023, and urged the regime to allow safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. The Leaders called for the release of those unjustly detained. They also urged the Myanmar military regime to end violence, engage in inclusive dialogue, and facilitate humanitarian assistance, in line with ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus. They reaffirmed the importance of working together to contribute to ASEAN’s efforts, including those of Indonesia as ASEAN Chair, to facilitate peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar. They also reaffirmed the important roles of the UN, ASEAN, and other partners in facilitating a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Myanmar.
  15. The Leaders strongly condemned Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine which is a gross violation of the principles of the UN Charter and of international law. The sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected. Consistent with UN General Assembly Resolution No. A/RES/ES-11/6 dated 23 February 2023, the Leaders called for Russia’s immediate withdrawal of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine, as part of delivering a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible. Aside from terrible damage and loss of life in Ukraine, the war is also compounding human suffering and exacerbating the global crisis in food and energy security, including in the Indo-Pacific.
  16. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and to strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as its cornerstone. The Leaders concurred that the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons is serious and inadmissible and called for urgent implementation of nuclear risk reduction measures. As the leaders of the five Nuclear-Weapon States themselves declared on 3 January 2022, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.
  17. The Leaders looked forward to the next Annual Leaders’ Meeting in Australia in 2024.