PM Lee Hsien Loong meets US President Barack Obama: Joint statement

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and US President Barack Obama delivering a joint statement at a press conference in the White House, on Aug 2, 2016.
Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and US President Barack Obama delivering a joint statement at a press conference in the White House, on Aug 2, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met US President Barack Obama at the Whte House on Tuesday (Aug 2, US time).

This is the full text of the joint statement issued by the White House:

1. At the invitation of the President of the United States of America Barack Obama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong made an official visit to the United States to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations and to enhance the bilateral strategic partnership. For half a century, the two countries have built a strong relationship anchored by robust economic cooperation, security and defense cooperation, and enduring people-to-people ties. Beyond bilateral cooperation, the two countries have worked as close partners to build a rules-based economic and security order for the Asia-Pacific and to address challenges on the global stage, including economic prosperity, climate change, terrorism, transnational crime, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On the occasion of the visit and the August 2, 2016 meeting between the two leaders, the United States and Singapore adopted this Joint Statement, affirming a continued commitment to advancing their strategic partnership in the areas below.

Supporting Robust Economic Cooperation and Commercial Connectivity and Driving Innovation

2. The U.S.-Singapore economic and commercial relationship provides a model to the world for how open markets and fair trade practices increase prosperity and drive innovation. Our shared economic priorities embrace trade liberalization, market reform, trade security, capacity building, innovation, entrepreneurship, climate change mitigation, clean energy, intellectual property protection, fair labor practices, and cyber security. Today, over 3,700 U.S. companies are located in Singapore, making Singapore a premier destination for U.S. businesses. A growing number of Singapore companies have also established a presence in the United States.

3. The two sides noted that the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the first such U.S. agreement in Asia and now in its 12th year, is a gold-standard agreement that has shaped other bilateral and multilateral FTAs in the region. The largest of these, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), reflects the commercial dimension of the U.S. rebalance to Asia and Singapore's commitment to high trade standards. Both countries emphasized the strategic and economic importance of all participating countries to ratify the TPP agreement expeditiously, and both committed to strengthen trade capacity building among TPP members.

4. The two leaders affirmed efforts to support expanding economic ties through closer cooperation on bilateral tax issues, and noted ongoing discussions between the two sides on a tax information exchange agreement (TIEA), which will permit our two countries to exchange relevant tax information to enforce our respective tax laws, and an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that provides for reciprocal automatic exchange of information with respect to certain financial accounts under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Both sides are committed to complete negotiations and sign the TIEA and the reciprocal FATCA IGA as soon as possible with the aim of doing so by the end of 2017. The leaders noted the two countries would ·maintain discussions on whether to negotiate an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement in the future, taking into account double taxation with respect to both U.S. investments in Singapore and Singaporean investments in the United States and our mutual interest in avoiding base erosion and profit shifting by multinationals.

 

5. The two leaders forged new cooperation on Smart City development and digital innovation. This includes (a) identifying opportunities for research collaboration between the National Science Foundation and the Singaporean National Research Foundation, (b) sharing of best practices and information exchange between both Governments on topics such as smart city policies, digital government, urban innovation and digital citizen engagement, through, among other things, the Digital Government Exchange forum to be held in Singapore and the Discover Global Markets: Building Smart Cities forum to be held in Chicago, and exchanges between the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Smart Nation Program Office in the Prime Minister's Office; and (c) facilitating exchanges for start-ups, as reflected in the MoU between the city of Austin and Singapore.

6. The two nations look forward to deepening their economic cooperation including under the U.S.-Asean Connect ("Connect") initiative, announced in February 2016 by President Obama during the U.S.-Asean Leaders Summit at Sunnylands. As the strategic framework for U.S. economic engagement with Asean, Connect will build upon U.S. government economic initiatives within Asean to support regional integration efforts and cooperation with the private sector. Singapore offered support for a new Connect program focused on the digital economy, which could include innovation policy workshops under the Third Country Training Program. The two leaders confirmed collaboration on the third US-Asean Connect event to be held in Singapore in 2016, which will focus on themes such as digital economy and financial technology (FinTech). The inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival will be supported by the Connect Center in Singapore and the United States Department of Commerce. The two leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU between the US Department of Commerce and Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry to promote collaboration in the infrastructure sector between US and Singapore companies in Southeast Asia and third-party markets.

Enhancing Security and Defense Cooperation

7. The two leaders reaffirmed the strong bilateral defense partnership, underpinned by the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding and 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement, and most recently elevated by the 2015 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Singapore trains or stations approximately 1000 personnel each year in the United States. The United States deploys aircraft and ships to Singapore on a rotational basis to conduct a variety of regional maritime patrol activities covering counterpiracy, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response. President Obama welcomed Singapore's continued interest in the F-35 aircraft. The two leaders expressed support to explore new training opportunities for the Singapore Armed Forces in Guam, with an eye toward a potential long-term training detachment for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

8. The United States and Singapore are committed to broadening and deepening our cooperation to promote an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure global Internet that supports innovation, economic growth and social development. We are committed to ensuring that the digital economy remains a force for robust economic growth and prosperity. Both sides expressed strong support for the new U.S.-Singapore MOU on Cooperation in the Area of Cybersecurity, which lays a foundation for expanding our cooperation on cyber issues. The United States and Singapore affirmed their support for the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance. We reaffirm, moreover, that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online. Both sides pledged to deepen their information exchange and sharing, to conduct new bilateral initiatives on critical infrastructure cybersecurity, and to continue to cooperate on cybercrime, cyber defense, and on regional capacity building activities, including through joint exercises, regular exchanges and visits, joint R&D and capability development, regional cyber capacity building programs or initiatives.

9. The two leaders endorsed a common approach to international cyber stability, affirming that international law applies to State conduct in cyberspace, and committing to promote voluntary norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. The United States and Singapore affirm that no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs the use of critical infrastructure to provide services to the public; that no country should conduct or knowingly support activity intended to prevent national computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs) from responding to cyber incidents, or use CSIRTs to enable online activity that is intended to do harm; that every country should cooperate, consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other states in mitigating malicious cyber activity emanating from its territory; and that no country should conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to its companies or commercial sectors.

10. First discussed by both Leaders when they met in 2013, both leaders welcomed a new joint statement to extend the Law Enforcement and Homeland Security, and Safety Cooperation Dialogue for another 3 years, which reinforces the strong cooperation in law enforcement matters, including counter-terrorism and anti-corruption, between the two countries. The two leaders also welcomed the MOU, which will be signed in September, between Singapore's Home Team Academy (HTA) and the U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) to collaborate and share expertise and best practices in law enforcement training, leadership development, and capacity building. Both countries sought to increase bilateral and regional cooperation to combat internet and computer crime.

11. The United States has partnered with Singapore on a number of issues related to transportation security. Both sides welcomed the 2016 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Transportation Security Administration and Ministry of Transport on capability development in the Asia-Pacific Region through joint training and capacity building to enhance the level of aviation security standards. The first joint training outreach event will take place in Singapore in 2017 where Asia-Pacific States will be invited to participate.

Addressing Regional and Global Challenges

12. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to ASEAN Centrality and to strengthening the regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, including existing ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to better address common transnational challenges such as maritime security, climate change and trafficking-in-persons. The two leaders highlighted the importance of the U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership, and the principles underpinning this relationship as outlined in the Sunnylands Declaration, for the peace, prosperity, and security of the Asia-Pacific.

13. The two leaders highlighted the success of the U.S.-Singapore Third Country Training Program (TCTP), which has received more than 700 officials from across ASEAN since its establishment in 2012. They expressed support for its continued growth, including in the areas of trade policy, environment protection, and addressing non-traditional security threats.

14. The two leaders resolved to enforce UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2270, adopted in response to the DPRK's January nuclear test, which imposes unprecedented sanctions on the DPRK. The United States welcomed and offered full support for Singapore's commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the full and effective implementation of UNSCR 2270. Both leaders welcomed the commitment to expand bilateral cooperation to ensure the enforcement of this resolution, including on cargo inspections, shipping, and finance. The United States welcomed and offered full support of Singapore's commitment to strengthen advanced cargo screening procedures, which is essential to securing the global supply chain, including through Singapore's decision to conduct a three-year trial of the World Customs Organization's Cargo Targeting System. Such measures play an essential role in securing global commerce, not only against proliferation from all sources, but against terrorism and other criminal activity.

15. The two leaders acknowledged the continued global threat posed by terrorism and the need to enhance information sharing on counterterrorism related issues. The two countries have also co-invested $30 million to date under the 2006 Combating Terrorism Research and Development agreement to improve capabilities to combat terrorism. Both leaders welcomed the extension of the agreement for another 10 years for investments up to $100 million. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment as Counter-ISIL coalition members to degrade and defeat ISIL. President Obama welcomed Singapore's commitment to continue existing contributions to coalition efforts, including the deployment of refueling tanker aircraft and an Imagery Analysis Team, as well as Singapore's new commitment to deploy medical support to Iraq.

16. The leaders reaffirmed the importance of maintaining regional peace and stability and upholding freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea. They emphasized the importance of resolving disputes peacefully, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They urged all parties to avoid actions that would escalate tensions, including the further militarization of outposts in the South China Sea. They reaffirmed their support for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the expeditious conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

17. Both countries affirmed the importance of addressing climate change and transitioning towards a low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development pathway, and committed to pursue a range of initiatives to advance these goals. They resolved to work together to implement the historic Paris Agreement. The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement this year, and Singapore commits to taking the domestic steps necessary to join as soon as possible, with a view to joining in 2016. They also called on all nations to support the Agreement's early entry into force in 2016. Both nations affirmed the importance of supporting the development and implementation of the transparency framework established under the Paris Agreement, with common modalities, procedures and guidelines. Both nations look forward to the early operationalization of the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency. They resolve to explore opportunities to collaborate on institutional and technical capacity-building activities to help other Parties meet the requirements of the transparency framework. Both countries affirmed their commitment to work to adopt an ambitious and comprehensive hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) phase-down amendment in 2016 within the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway. They supported the adoption of a global market-based measure (MBM) at the upcoming Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization for implementation from 2020, as part of a collective effort to address climate change through a comprehensive basket of measures. The leaders emphasized the importance of a global MBM in supporting the aviation industry's desire to grow sustainably and prevent a patchwork of national or regional MBM schemes given the cross-border nature of international flights.

18. The two leaders commended the adoption of the fifth Plan of Action in August 2015 under the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement's environmental cooperation Memorandum of Intent (MOI). To protect our shared environment, the United States and Singapore commit to strengthen cooperation to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems by combating the illegal trade in CITES species, improving the capacity of institutions, and strengthening policies to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of environmental laws. Singapore also stated its intention to positively consider implementing a ban on the domestic trade in ivory. Both countries also look forward to deepening the exchange of information on environmental policies, best practices and the use of innovative environmental technology and pollution management techniques, and to work closely together and with other WTO Members to conclude an ambitious Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) that eliminates tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods by the end of the year. We also resolve to cooperate to conserve our oceans and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, including by implementing port State measures in recognition of the importance of concerted international action to address IUU fishing as reflected in regional and international instruments, including the Port State Measures Agreement.

19. The United States and Singapore affirmed their commitment to advance the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to assist other countries to implement the International Health Regulations (IHR) and prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate or accidental. In 2016, the United States underwent a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of its national capabilities to achieve the GHSA and other IHR-related targets and will publish the results. In 2017, Singapore will initiate a JEE. The United States has made a commitment to assist at least 31 countries to achieve the GHSA targets, and Singapore will join two GHSA Action Packages to share best practices to assist others. Singapore will also provide experts, where available, to support the assessments of other countries, including within ASEAN.

Strengthening People-to-People Ties

20. Both the United States and Singapore affirmed their commitment to further strengthen the already deep bonds of friendship, cooperation, and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries. The United States welcomed the launch of an exchange scholarship program to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations and deepen people-to-people ties. The scholarship will fund summer exchange programs for 50 Singaporean and 50 U.S. students over the course of the next 5 years. In support of the U.S. Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), which has grown into a network of more than 80,000 youth across the region, the U.S. will convene an Urban Planning Workshop in 2017 in Singapore. Both sides recognized the success of the YSEALI program and the contributions made by its Singaporean participants in promoting innovation, inspiring cross-ASEAN connectivity, and advancing bilateral ties.

21. The United States was pleased to open Global Entry eligibility to include citizens of Singapore from June 2016. Singapore in turn allowed Americans to apply for its enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) under the Trusted Traveller Program (TTP). Following the Joint Statement issued by the United States and Singapore on Dec. 1 2014, both countries had worked together to officially launch the TTP on June 27, 2016. The TTP reaffirmed the strong trust and ties that the United States and Singapore enjoy given that Singapore is the 1st ASEAN country to be in the program. These trusted traveler programs will make travel between our two nations more convenient and secure for travelers.

Enhancing our Enduring Partnership

22. Through a half-century of diplomatic relations, the United States and Singapore have forged an expansive and enduring relationship by cooperating on issues of mutual interest and shared principles. Both leaders committed to further enhance the U.S.-Singapore strategic partnership, making it deeper, more substantive, and more effective to better support peace, stability, and cooperation across the region and around the world.

 

Related Stories: