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Closer economic partnership for Singapore and Australia in the works according to latter's foreign minister

Deeper cooperation in foreign affairs, civic exchanges and defence planned

Published on Aug 24, 2014 7:38 AM
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam at the Eighth Meeting of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Australia has lived up to the pledge of its new government to focus on Asia, and the shift will strengthen in the coming years with new trade deals and enhanced exchanges, including with Singapore, its foreign minister, Ms Julie Bishop, told The Sunday Times.

"We've certainly lived up to the promises that PM (Tony) Abbott made in opposition and our focus will be more on the region," she said in an interview yesterday.

Since the prime minister came into office last September, Mr Abbott's administration has sealed free trade agreements (FTAs) with Japan and South Korea, repaired relations with Indonesia damaged by spying revelations and is in the "final stages" of talks with China on a bilateral FTA, Ms Bishop noted.

Last Friday, foreign, trade and defence ministers from Singapore and Australia announced the two nations will upgrade ties to a new comprehensive partnership under the 10-year Project 2025.

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