Joint Statement on meeting between Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law of the Republic of Singapore
August 16, 2014
Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam and India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met on 16 August 2014 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. Minister Shanmugam warmly welcomed Minister Swaraj, who was making an introductory visit to Singapore. The meeting was also the second between the two Foreign Ministers following their last meeting in New Delhi on 1 July 2014.
Minister Shanmugam conveyed his congratulations to Minister Swaraj on the occasion of India’s 68th Independence Day on 15 August 2014. Minister Swaraj likewise conveyed her best wishes on the occasion of Singapore’s 49th National Day on 9 August 2014.
Minister Shanmugam and Minister Swaraj welcomed the excellent state of bilateral relations and close engagement that exists between the two countries. This was manifested in the regular exchange of high-level visits. In this regard, the two Ministers agreed to work towards a bilateral meeting between Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their first since Prime Minister Modi assumed office in May 2014, at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Ministers recalled that India and Singapore had established relations on 24 August 1965 and in this regard, expressed satisfaction with the ongoing preparations by both sides to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Both Ministers agreed that the main highlight of the 50th anniversary celebrations will be the exchange of State Visits by Singapore’s President Tony Tan to India and India’s President Pranab Mukherjee to Singapore in 2015. The celebrations will also feature a "Festival of Singapore” in India and the "Year of India” in Singapore. To inaugurate the series of commemorative activities, Minister Shanmugam and Minister Swaraj will grace a cultural performance at the National University of Singapore Cultural Centre on 16 August 2014 and launch the logo for the 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Ministers expressed satisfaction with the strengthening of cooperation between the two Governments in various fields such as defence and security, economic, culture and people-to-people contacts. They reaffirmed the commitment of the two Governments to elevate the state of bilateral relations, and agreed to adopt a proactive and forward-looking approach towards building a closer and mutually beneficial partnership between Singapore and India.
The Ministers underscored the importance of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which was signed a decade ago in June 2005, as the cornerstone of the intensifying state of economic relations between the two countries. Annual bilateral trade had flourished in the last decade from US$4.2 billion in 2003-04 to around US$19.4 billion in 2013-14. Both countries have invested much in each other. Singapore became one of India’s largest foreign investors in 2013, while Singapore is one of India’s top investment destinations. Both Ministers expressed the hope that the negotiations for the Second Review of the CECA would be completed expeditiously, which would send a positive signal to the business community.
As a follow-up to their last meeting in New Delhi on 1 July 2014, both Ministers agreed that both Singapore and India should explore further areas of collaboration and mechanisms to implement the initiatives. Minister Shanmugam and Minister Swaraj directed their officials to identify concrete projects in five focal areas of cooperation:
(a) Scaling up investments and trade;
(b) Speeding up air and maritime connectivity and coastal development;
(c) Smart city development and urban rejuvenation (including water and waste management);
(d) Skills development and capacity building; and
(e) State focus to strengthen business and cultural links
The Ministers noted that some preliminary work had already been carried out by officials from the two sides, and study visits and consultations are being planned in the coming months. The Ministers agreed to update their respective Prime Ministers on the progress made in the above mentioned areas of cooperation.
Minister Shanmugam and Minister Swaraj had a candid exchange of views on various regional and global developments. The two Ministers reviewed the outcomes of the 47th ASEAN Ministerial and Related Meetings in Myanmar from 5 to 10 August 2014, as well as matters related to the upcoming series of major multilateral meetings, such as the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, East Asia Summit and G-20 Summit.The Ministers also reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture, as well as the growing and wide-ranging cooperation between ASEAN and India. They looked forward to the signing of the Services and Investment Chapters of the ASEAN-India FTA (AIFTA) by the end of 2014, a step which would bring ASEAN and India closer to achieving its goal of US$100 billion worth of ASEAN-India trade by 2015.
Both Ministers expressed confidence that ASEAN and India could work together to advance the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would be a high-quality, comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic agreement, taking into account the diverse circumstances and levels of development of different members. Both Ministers were confident that the RCEP will complement the ASEAN-India FTA and entrench India’s strategic presence in the region.Minister Shanmugam also welcomed India’s chairing of the 6th round of RCEP negotiations in December 2014.
The two Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) Meetings and MEA-MFA consultations, which are held annually to review the progress of bilateral relations between Singapore and India. Both Ministers agreed that the 13th MEA-MFA Consultations could take place at the earliest opportunity.Minister Swaraj also invited Minister Shanmugam to co-chair the 4th JMC meeting in New Delhi later this year. Minister Shanmugam accepted Minister Swaraj’s invitation, and said that he looked forward to meeting her in the near future.