SINGAPORE: Singapore and Vietnam have agreed to "expeditiously conclude ongoing discussions" on a "green lane" agreement for essential business and official travel, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Tuesday (Dec 15).
MFA's permanent secretary Chee Wee Kiong and Vietnam's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung have "tasked officials to finalise the green lane agreement by early next year", said MFA in a statement.
The two countries are also seeking to reinstate regular commercial return flights between them.
"Singapore will be among the first few countries with which Vietnam will resume regularised essential business and official travel," said MFA.
Since Oct 8, short-term visitors from Vietnam have been allowed to travel to Singapore after applying for an Air Travel Pass.
They need not serve stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore but will be required to take a COVID-19 test instead. If the test result is negative, they will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore.
They must have also remained in Vietnam for 14 consecutive days prior to arrival in Singapore.
Mr Chee and and Mr Nguyen co-chaired the 13th Singapore-Vietnam Bilateral Consultations, held via videoconference on Tuesday.
They reaffirmed the "excellent state of the strategic partnership" between Singapore and Vietnam, said MFA.
"They expressed appreciation for the mutual support rendered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including to the nationals residing in each other’s countries and the facilitation of their return home, the sharing of information and best practices, and the mutual contribution of medical supplies and equipment."
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The two sides also agreed that multilateral cooperation on the development, manufacture and distribution of vaccines was essential to mounting an effective international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They affirmed the importance of enhancing cooperation to combat the economic impact of the pandemic. This is done through boosting economic links, resuming air connectivity, facilitating travel between both countries and maintaining supply chain connectivity, said MFA.
Mr Chee and Mr Nguyen reviewed Singapore and Vietnam’s "wide-ranging and substantive" cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, finance, transport, labour, food and agriculture, technical assistance, and defence and security, said MFA.
They agreed that there were opportunities to expand cooperation in emerging areas such as start-ups and innovation, digital economy, legal and judicial cooperation, cybersecurity, and smart nation initiatives.
They also had "productive discussions" on increasing agri-trade cooperation between the two countries, MFA added.
Both sides exchanged views on regional and international developments.
"They emphasised the importance of strengthening ASEAN unity and centrality, deepening economic integration, and upholding multilateralism," said MFA.
Mr Chee also congratulated Vietnam on its "successful" ASEAN chairmanship in 2020 and "outstanding leadership" of ASEAN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.