SINGAPORE: Singapore and Thailand will "expedite ongoing discussions" to facilitate essential business travel through a reciprocal green lane arrangement, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement on Wednesday (Aug 26).
It comes after the permanent secretaries for the two foreign affairs ministries, Chee Wee Kiong and his Thai counterpart Busaya Mathelin, spoke via video conference. They co-chaired the Singapore-Thailand Political Consultations on Wednesday.
Both sides reaffirmed "the excellent state of bilateral relations" between Singapore and Thailand, said MFA.
"They expressed appreciation for the mutual assistance and support rendered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, including to the nationals residing in each other’s countries and the facilitation of their return home," it added.
"Both sides also shared timely information and experiences on combating COVID-19, and mutually contributed medical supplies, equipment and COVID-19 diagnostic test kits."
Singapore is working on green lane travel arrangements with several countries. It is in talks to resume essential business travel with Japan, with officials tasked to finalise an agreement by early September.
Singapore will also begin discussions on a reciprocal green lane with Indonesia, said MFA on Tuesday, after Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan met his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi during her visit to Singapore.
"GOOD PROGRESS IN BILATERAL COOPERATION"
On Wednesday, the Singapore and Thailand permanent secretaries emphasised the importance of working with ASEAN partners to promote research and development on vaccines and medicines, keep their economies open and connected, as well as to establish a framework to deal with future public health emergencies.
They also welcomed "the continued momentum in bilateral engagements despite the disruptions posed by COVID-19", said MFA.
"They reviewed the good progress in bilateral cooperation in wide-ranging areas including trade and investment, defence, finance, education and people-to-people ties," it added.
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They also agreed there is opportunity to expand cooperation in new areas of growth in the post-COVID-19 era such as the digital economy, connectivity, smart cities and cybersecurity.
The permanent secretaries also stressed the importance of strengthening "ASEAN centrality and unity", as well as deepening regional economic integration through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement that is expected to be signed later this year.