The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP


Australian Minister for Trade and Deputy Leader of the National Party, Mark Vaile

Canberra, 20 June 2001

Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting

(Check against delivery)


It is a great pleasure to welcome you all - and especially our visiting Singaporean friends - to this luncheon on the occasion of the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting.

I realise that some of our friends from tropical Singapore may be feeling a bit frozen by the cold of a Canberra winter, but we on the Australian side are going to make up for that by the warmth of our welcome!

Trade aspects of our relationship

From my position as Trade Minister, I see Singapore and Australia as important partners in the challenge to maintain the momentum of trade liberalisation worldwide. Singapore is well placed to contribute to this task.

Our two countries cooperate well in the context of the World Trade Organisation. We are both committed to build momentum for the launch of a market-access focused WTO round at Doha.

Singapore is playing a pivotal role in the emerging East Asia regional architecture. It ensures that ASEAN remains a vibrant and relevant force for regional stability and economic progress. And Singaporean leadership in the Forum for East Asian Latin American Cooperation demonstrates its acute understanding of the strategic importance of cross-Pacific cooperation.

Through Singapore's pursuit of bilateral free trade agreements it is positioning itself as leader on free trade issues amongst ASEAN nations. And, of course, we in Australia are very pleased that Singapore is giving priority to its negotiations with us on our own bilateral FTA, as announced by Prime Ministers Howard and Goh on 15 November 2000.

Our two countries have a particularly strong economic relationship. Singapore is our largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN and our 7th largest trading partner overall. In 2000, Australian merchandise exports to Singapore were $A5.9 billion (our sixth largest export market) and our imports were valued at $A3.7 billion (ninth largest source).

Services are a key part of our exports to Singapore, particularly in education. Singapore is our largest source of overseas students- 19,682 in 2000 - and also our fifth largest source of short-term visitors - 276,000 in 2000.

Two way investment continues to grow. Australian investment in Singapore was valued at $A9.6 billion in June 2000, and total Singaporean investment in Australia at that time was recorded at $A19.8 billion.

Australia and Singapore are committed to negotiating a comprehensive FTA, liberalising trade in both goods and services. This will be a cutting edge agreement, increasing economic ties across the full spectrum of bilateral trade. In particular, the FTA will emphasise the strong stake that Australia and Singapore have in free trade in goods, services and the development of the information society, the new economy and in research and innovation generally.


The Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC) is a clear expression of the importance both countries attach to the bilateral relationship at the highest political level. The Third SAJMC is building on the foundations of past meetings and show the way forward for stronger bilateral ties.

Importantly, the SAJMC has been successful in highlighting vibrant private sector links. The recent agreement between the Singapore and Australia Stock Exchange on common trading platforms is an example of business to business collaboration, and highlights prospects for future growth in this sector.


Clearly, there is much in our relationship to be optimistic about.

I believe that the relationship between Singapore and Australia will continue to grow stronger - and do so in more diverse ways. I look forward very much to the remainder of this SAJMC meeting, as we continue to work towards that very laudable objective.

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