New Zealand Governor General’s Visit To Singapore Boosts Bilateral Ties

By @diplomatist10 on
Singapore Merlion
IN PHOTO: The Marina Bay Sands casino construction site is seen from the Merlion Park in Singapore May 1, 2008 Reuters/stringer

New Zealand’s Governor-General Jerry Mateparae will be concluding his three-day state visit to Singapore on July 8. The visit was at the invitation of President Tony Tan Keng Yam. Governor-General Mateparae is accompanied by his wife Janine Mateparae and officials from the New Zealand Government House, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The visit marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and underscored their close and longstanding relationship.

Mateparae received a ceremonial welcome at the Istana on Tuesday and meetings with President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong followed. The leaders reaffirmed the excellent bilateral relations between Singapore and New Zealand. According to MFA, they discussed regional developments including threats from extremism and also explored emerging areas of cooperation between both countries including research.

Five Decades

Marking the five decades of relations, the Governor-General planted an Agathis Robusta tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The 50th anniversary, together with 40 years of partnership between New Zealand and ASEAN was also commemorated by the New Zealand High Commission in Singapore by holding a reception on July 6. The Governor-General paid a visit to the KK Women's and Children’s Hospital to understand the ongoing collaboration between Singapore and New Zealand at the Neurodevelopment Research Centre. Sir Jerry is expected to visit Singapore's first eco-friendly housing project, the Treelodge@ Punggol.

Strong Ties

Both Singapore and New Zealand have many shared characteristics such as small and open economies with a history of long and familial relationship. New Zealand was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore's Independence and the first country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement in 2001.

It is estimated that 5,400 Singapore-born residents are living in New Zealand and 4,000 New Zealanders are in Singapore. New Zealand was one of two countries, the other being India, which flew its flags half-mast as a mark of respect to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away on March 23.  Defence relations have been a key area of the bilateral relations. As members of the Five-Power Defence Arrangements, both New Zealand and Singapore maintain defence ties and had been partners in missions at East Timor and Afghanistan. New Zealand also provides military training facilities to Singapore and Singapore Armed Forces have conducted annual exercises in Waiouru.

The trade relation between the two countries is also strong, with bilateral trade growing at the rate of 16 percent as of 2014 and has touched NZ $3.95 billion. Singapore is New Zealand's biggest trading partner in ASEAN and the fifth-largest investor of New Zealand. 

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