WELLINGTON • Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is on a three-day visit to New Zealand, has met Prime Minister Bill English and both men reaffirmed the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, agreeing that there was potential to do more in view of the complementarities between them.
Dr Balakrishnan was hosted to lunch by his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully in Wellington yesterday. They jointly announced the launch of discussions towards a Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership (EP).
Under the EP, Singapore and New Zealand will work towards cooperation in the areas of trade and economics, security and defence, people-to-people links as well as research, technology and innovation, and in ways that would set an example of integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
A joint statement said the two countries will upgrade the Closer Economic Partnership. The statement said the way that business is done and the opportunities to trade have changed since the bilateral trade agreement was originally signed in 2000.
Total two-way annual goods trade between New Zealand and Singapore stands at NZ$2.5 billion (S$2.44 billion), with significant tourism, other services, trade and investment adding value for both countries. Both countries will also seek ways to facilitate business linkages and promote increased investment collaboration, including for small and medium-sized enterprises.
New Zealand and Singapore will build on the Defence Cooperation Arrangement signed in 2009, identifying opportunities to collaborate further on defence and security.
Dr Balakrishnan also met Minister of Finance and Infrastructure Steven Joyce, Minister of Health, Sport and Recreation Jonathan Coleman, and Minister of Trade and State Owned Enterprises Todd McClay. He was also hosted to dinner by Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson. Dr Balakrishnan also met opposition Labour Party spokesman for foreign affairs David Parker.
Today, Dr Balakrishnan will meet the Auckland City Council for a briefing on its smart city initiatives.
Dr Balakrishnan will next make a three-day official visit to Argentina, his first visit to Latin America as Foreign Minister.