Debate on ministries' budgets: Foreign Affairs

Parliament: Updates on Republic's relations with key partners

Flags of Asean's 10 member countries and that of the regional grouping at the Asean Summit in Singapore in November last year. The grouping "has always been a cornerstone of Singapore's foreign policy and for our engagement with the region and the re
Flags of Asean's 10 member countries and that of the regional grouping at the Asean Summit in Singapore in November last year. The grouping "has always been a cornerstone of Singapore's foreign policy and for our engagement with the region and the rest of the world", said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Malaysia

Bilateral issues may have come to the fore recently, but Singapore remains committed to resolving these in an amicable and constructive manner, in "strict accordance with bilateral agreements and international law", Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.

Both sides' senior officials have been meeting to discuss the issue of port limits as well as airspace.

"We will continue to maintain constructive and open engagement with Malaysia to manage and to resolve the differences and to advance bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit," the minister added.


Indonesia

Singapore's economy is "inextricably linked" with Indonesia's and their deep, multi-faceted ties are reinforced by high-level exchanges.

The country will hold elections on April 17, and Dr Balakrishnan emphasised that "Singapore does not take sides in the elections of any country, including our neighbours. We are committed to working with the government of the day".

"We hope for a smooth and peaceful elections that will contribute towards Indonesia's long-term stability and success. We look forward to continuing the strong and constructive partnership with Indonesia."


Brunei

Singapore has a "longstanding special relationship" with Brunei and it will continue to strengthen these ties.

Strong defence cooperation and the Currency Interchangeability Agreement are important pillars of this relationship, the minister said.

Singapore also looks forward to cooperating with Brunei in such areas as aquaculture and agriculture, and will continue to engage the younger generation of Bruneian leaders through the annual Young Leaders' Programme, which will be held in Brunei this year.


United States

Both countries are working towards the renewal next year of the 1990 landmark agreement granting the US access to military facilities in Singapore, Senior Minister of State Maliki Osman said. He noted the US has been a stabilising force in the region for decades, and its continued commitment and sustained presence is even more vital today.

Both countries will also sustain a steady rhythm of high-level engagements this year. Notwithstanding their different positions on trade, they continue to enjoy robust economic relations, he added.


China

Both countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, Minister of State Sam Tan said. They are also in the process of establishing a comprehensive mechanism for cooperation between Singapore and Shanghai, in addition to the existing seven economic and trade councils.

The three government-to-government projects are also doing well, he added, and both sides are working on Belt and Road Initiative projects to improve infrastructural and financial connectivity, and cooperation in professional services as well as third countries.


Australia, India, Japan

Singapore is exploring ways to further deepen the bilateral relationship with Australia at the upcoming joint ministerial committee meeting involving both sides' foreign, trade and defence ministers.

With India, both sides are intensifying collaboration in fintech, including linking up electronic payment systems, banks and businesses.

With Japan, Singapore is exploring possible collaboration to support infrastructure projects in third countries, in line with Japan's G-20 priorities, as well as in smart cities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2019, with the headline 'Updates on Republic's relations with key partners'. Print Edition | Subscribe