SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be in Sydney, Australia, for an official visit from Thursday to Sunday (Mar 15 to 18), at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
There, Mr Lee will attend the third Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Summit, an annual meeting established under the 2015 Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), and the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit from Mar 17 to 18.
The Singapore-Australian Leaders’ Summit is the latest in a string of high-level meetings between both countries' leaders. Mr Lee and Mr Turnbull are expected to discuss issues including the progress of the partnership, regional developments and Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship this year.
Mr Turnbull was in Singapore for the second edition of the summit last year. During the visit, both leaders announced a new long-term visa for Singaporean travellers to Australia. Deals were also signed to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation and to further collaboration in data science and advanced manufacturing.
Under the CSP, a slew of arrangements on trade, defence, as well as science and innovation have been signed. In trade, Singapore and Australia are involved in several agreements such as the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and, more recently, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership - a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that excludes the United States.
Singapore and Australia share a long-standing, close, and multifaceted relationship. Australia is one of Singapore's closest partners in the region, with ties dating back to World War II.
Today, this engagement has grown. Singapore is Australia’s seventh largest trading partner and fifth largest foreign investor. Singapore has also invested some S$102 billion in Australian stocks.
While in Sydney, Mr Lee will have separate meetings with Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission Lucy Turnbull and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. He will also meet overseas Singaporeans.
As Singapore is ASEAN chairman this year, Mr Lee will co-chair the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit with Mr Turnbull. Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove will also host the leaders of the 10-member regional bloc to lunch.
On the sidelines of the Special Summit, Mr Lee will deliver an opening speech at the ASEAN-Australia Business Summit's Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Conference, as well as witness the signing of the ASEAN-Australia memorandum of understanding on cooperation to combat international terrorism.
Mr Lee will be accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran and Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee. Senior officials from the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also be present.
During Mr Lee’s absence, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean will be Acting Prime Minister.