SINGAPORE - Singaporeans who travel to Australia can get a new visa that will let them enter the country for up to three months at a time over six years.
This will make it easier for them to travel to Australia for business and pleasure, instead of having to apply for a fresh permit every few months.
The visa, which is exclusive to Singaporeans, was announced on the first day of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's three-day visit to Singapore.
It will begin by Jan 1, 2018.
Welcoming the six-year visa was Mr Getty Goh, 39, who travels to Australia every one to two months for work. His crowdfunding company Coassets is listed there.
“Any visa that promotes freer travel for business is never a bad thing. This will help open Australia up as a market for Singapore businesses,” he said.
Also announced was a new visa which will let Singaporeans younger than 30 years old work and holiday in Australia for up to a year.
The Work and Holiday Visa Programme begins on Aug 1, and 500 places are available to citizens of each country.
In 2016, more than 230,000 visitor visas were granted to travellers from Singapore, up 16 per cent from the year before.
Those keen on the work and holiday visa should be aged 18 to 30 when they apply.
Singaporeans should hold a polytechnic diploma or university degree, or have completed the equivalent of two years of full-time tertiary study at a polytechnic or university.
Australian applicants should hold a university degree, or have completed the equivalent of two years of full-time undergraduate university study.
In a statement on Friday (June 2), the Australian authorities said the new visa arrangements will further boost tourism and business links between Singapore and Australia.
"It will make it easier for people to come to Australia to visit friends and family while also enabling business operators to conduct regular meetings or attend conferences in Australia," the statement said.
About 50,000 Singaporeans live in Australia, while 25,000 Australians reside in Singapore.
Last year, 400,000 Singaporeans visited Australia and one million Australians visited Singapore.
Partners in trade and defence
Mr Turnbull is in Singapore for the second Singapore-Australia Leaders' Summit, an annual meeting under a comprehensive strategic partnership between both countries.
The upgraded free trade agreement between Singapore and Australia, which was reviewed in 2016, will take effect in September this year.
There is also steady progress in the joint development of military training areas in Queensland, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a joint press conference with Mr Turnbull on Friday.
He added that he looks forward to the training arrangements being finalised in a treaty in 2018.
Said Mr Lee: "We deeply appreciate Australia's continued support for Singapore's training needs."
Both countries are outward-oriented economies that depend on trade, which is why they are friends with all major powers including the United States and China, Mr Lee said.
This strategic alignment is why they work closely on regional trade initiatives and agree on the importance of Asean as well as an open and inclusive regional architecture, he added.
Singapore will chair Asean in 2018, and Australia will host a special Asean-Australia Summit in Sydney in March that year.
Mr Turnbull said both countries are bound together by shared values of a rule-based international order and rule of law in the region.
This order enabled economic progress which lifted millions out of poverty, he added.
Deepening cooperation in science and cybersecurity
The two prime ministers also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding for stronger cybersecurity cooperation.
Under it, Singapore and Australia will regularly exchange information on cybersecurity incidents and threats, promote innovation, and hold joint cybersecurity exercises focused on protecting critical information infrastructure.
They will also work together to build cybersecurity resources and know-how in the region.
Singapore has also signed cybersecurity cooperation agreements with the United States, France, India, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
An agreement to deepen cooperation in science was also inked.
Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Csiro), and Singapore's data science consortium will provide matching funds of up to $1 million for data science research in urban mobility, and health and ageing.
Similar matching funds will be given by Csiro and Nanyang Technology University for joint research projects on advanced manufacturing, health and biosecurity.
The two agreements inked on Friday form the second tranche of deals under the comprehensive strategic partnership, which was reached in 2015.
The first tranche of deals - in defence, trade, innovation and law enforcement - was signed in the Australian capital of Canberra in 2016.