TOKYO: Japan and Singapore will work together to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact as soon as possible.
This came out of a meeting on Thursday (Dec 1) between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is on his first state visit to Japan.
"We agreed to continue to work together to an early entry into force of the TPP, as well as the completion of ASEAN negotiations so as not to reverse the trend of free trade," said Mr Abe in a joint news conference.
Both countries are part of the 12-nation TPP that would cover about 40 per cent of the global economy. However, the future of the US-led initiaitve is now uncertain after US President-elect Donald Trump said he plans to pull out of the pact the day he takes office.
"We discussed the economic and strategic importance of the TPP, and agreed that it is in the interest of all TPP partners to ensure that it is ratified and enters into force expeditiously," said Dr Tan.
The leaders of Singapore and Japan have been stressing the importance of the mega trade deal. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Nov 19 that Singapore will amend legislation to bring TPP into effect by next year. In Japan, the lower house has ratified the TPP and it is now before the upper house.
To take effect, the deal has to be ratified by February 2018 by at least six countries that account for 85 per cent of the group's economic output.
Dr Tan also said he looks forward to "a timely conclusion" of the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Agreement, the 16-nation pact which Singapore and Japan are also part of.
CLOSE AND LONG-STANDING BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
Dr Tan is on a nine-day state visit to Japan to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties (SJ50). Both leaders affirmed the long-standing and close bilateral relationship, and discussed cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas.
Dr Tan said he is happy to see Singapore’s educational and cultural institutions stepping up cooperation with their Japanese counterparts through the various agreements signed on Thursday, which will "go a long way in promoting mutual understanding and deepening relations for generations to come," he said.
In the financial sector, he noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) recently signed a local currency bilateral swap agreement which will enhance the financial stability of the two countries countries.
On his part, Mr Abe said that he is keen to elevate bilateral relations between Japan and Singapore to a higher level for the next 50 years.
To commemorate the milestone, Singapore Post and Japan Post released a joint stamp issue on Thursday. The exchange of documents marking the collaboration was witnessed by Dr Tan and Mr Abe.
Singapore-Japan joint stamp issue to mark 50 years of bilateral relations. (Photo: SingPost)
The stamps feature ceramic works by renowned potters of the two countries - Singapore’s Cultural Medallion recipient Iskandar Jalil, and the late Mr Toyozo Arakawa who was given the title of "Living National Treasure" in 1995.
The stamp issue is available at all post offices in Singapore and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.
Dr Tan said: "As we round up a busy but fruitful year of SJ50 and consolidate our relations over the last half a century, I am confident that the relationship between Singapore and Japan will further strengthen and expand over the next 50 years and beyond."