Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) and his Australian counterpart Malcom Turbull (Photo: VNA)
Sydney (VNA) – Australia and Singapore on October 13 signed four Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) under the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in defence, trade, science and technology reform, and drug trafficking prevention.

The signing took place during Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Australia.

The two countries also inked a MoU on the third update of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), which was reached in 2003 and will come into force in 2017.

It is hoped to enable the travelling of businesspeople as well as reduce administrative procedures, increase access to the two governments, and improve the bilateral trade.

Two-way trade topped 20 billion SGD (14.5 billion USD) in 2015. Australia was the 12th biggest trade partner of Singapore in the year, while Singapore was the largest trade partner of Australia in ASEAN and its fifth biggest foreign investor in 2014.

In defence, Singapore will invest 2.25 billion AUD (1.7 billion USD) in military bases in Queensland state in Australia.

Regarding science and technology reform, the two countries’ governments will contribute 50 million SGD (36.2 million USD) to support research in the fields of mutual interest.

Furthermore, the two sides will closely work together to address cross-border drug trafficking. Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Australian Federal Police will coordinate to prevent organised crime, open training courses for officers, and exchange information.

Australia and Singapore elevated relations to comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2015.-VNA