SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Donald Trump issued a joint statement on Tuesday (Oct 24) reaffirming a strong and enduring partnership between Singapore and the US.
The statement, which was issued after Mr Trump hosted PM Lee at the White House, said the partnership was based on mutually beneficial cooperation, especially in the economic, defense, security, and people-to-people spheres.
Here’s the joint statement in full:
President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump hosted Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong at the White House today. They affirmed the strong and enduring partnership between the two countries based on mutually beneficial cooperation, especially in the economic, defense, security, and people-to-people spheres.
The two leaders noted the important role that the bilateral United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has played in strengthening the robust economic relations between the United States and Singapore and in expanding trade, enhancing prosperity, and promoting broader relations for the benefit of both countries. Bilateral trade has almost doubled from pre-FTA levels to reach more than US$68 billion in 2016, with a consistent trade surplus for the United States. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Singapore, and American companies use Singapore as a regional hub for their activities. Conversely, Singapore is among the largest investors from Asia in the United States. Both leaders noted the success of the United States-Singapore FTA, which is reviewed regularly to evaluate performance and resolve bilateral issues.
The leaders highlighted the strong commercial relationship between the two countries, demonstrated by the signing for the purchase of 39 Boeing wide-body aircraft by Singapore Airlines (SIA), valued at US$13.8 billion. The order will expand and modernize SIA’s fleet to support the increasing demand of business and tourism-related travels, while rewarding innovation and creating jobs in the United States. They acknowledged the expanded commercial cooperation achieved under the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding on e-Commerce, Smart Cities, Infrastructure and Financial Technology (FinTech).
The two leaders affirmed their close and long-standing defense ties as a cornerstone of bilateral relations. Singapore hosts the rotational deployment of United States military aircraft and U.S. Navy ships to conduct a variety of maritime patrol activities to counter piracy and terrorism, as well as provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the region. Singapore trains approximately 1,000 military personnel in the United States each year, including those stationed at training detachments for the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s F-15SG and F-16C/D fighter aircraft, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters, and the Singapore Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. Singapore has signed more than US$5.8 billion worth of defense contracts with U.S. companies in the past three years, and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) recently received a delivery of F-15SG fighter jets from Boeing. President Trump thanked Prime Minister Lee for the deployment of four of Singapore’s Chinook helicopters to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief operations in Texas, and Singapore’s search-and-rescue assistance following the August USS John S. McCain tragedy.
Both leaders expressed deep concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) continued development of its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which pose a grave threat to international peace and security. They condemned the DPRK’s missile launches and nuclear tests, which are in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs). The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement the DPRK UNSCRs and to consider additional measures to compel the DPRK regime to engage in meaningful dialogue about a different future.
The two leaders recognized the grave threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and affirmed that urgent action is needed to address this danger. Both sides welcomed Singapore’s efforts in non-proliferation and strategic trade control initiatives, such as through its trial of the World Customs Organization’s Cargo Targeting System to strengthen global supply chain security, and decided to consider exploring new areas of cooperation to prevent the global transportation sector from being abused by proliferators. The United States also welcomed Singapore’s continued support for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), such as Singapore’s hosting of the PSI exercise Deep Sabre in late 2016, and the PSI Operational Expert Groups meeting in August 2017.
The two leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation to counter the threat of ISIS and reaffirmed the need for all countries to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against the common scourge of global terrorism. They welcomed the upcoming bilateral Law Enforcement and Homeland Security and Safety Cooperation Dialogue. As a partner in the fight against ISIS and the first and only Asian country to have contributed both assets and personnel to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, President Trump welcomed Singapore’s commitment to extend its existing contributions to the Coalition, including the deployment of a medical task force in Iraq, KC-135R tanker aircraft, and an Imagery Analysis Team.
Recognizing the transboundary nature of cybersecurity threats, the two leaders affirmed the progress made under the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding on Cybersecurity Cooperation. Both countries affirmed their commitment to work together during Singapore’s 2018 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Chairmanship to secure the digital economy as a key engine for future economic growth.
The two leaders supported expanding economic ties through closer cooperation on bilateral tax issues and welcomed continued progress towards the signing of a tax information exchange agreement and a reciprocal intergovernmental agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The negotiations have been substantially completed, and both sides are committed to sign the two agreements as soon as possible, with the aim of doing so by the end of the year. The leaders noted the two countries would continue discussions on whether to negotiate an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement in the future, taking into account double taxation with respect to both American investments in Singapore and Singaporean investments in the United States and our mutual interest in avoiding base erosion and profit shifting by multinationals.
Both leaders affirmed the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the two countries. They welcomed the continuation of the United States-Singapore Summer Exchange Scholarship Program to foster linkages and new ideas for cooperation between the next generation of young leaders. The two leaders recognized the success of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and looked forward to YSEALI events in the future.
Both leaders noted concerns about developments in the South China Sea (SCS). They reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding peace and stability, and they reiterated their commitment to upholding freedoms of navigation and overflight, and other lawful uses of the sea. Consonant with the Sunnylands Declaration, both leaders underscored the importance of the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They also reiterated their support for the expeditious conclusion of an effective and binding Code of Conduct in the SCS.
The two leaders expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State and on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Both leaders called for the expeditious delivery of humanitarian assistance to all affected communities, and urged the government of Myanmar to end the violence, ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation, resettlement, and rehabilitation of displaced persons, and implement in the shortest time possible the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. They expressed their support for ASEAN’s role in working with the government of Myanmar to provide humanitarian assistance to all affected communities.
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ASEAN centrality and the importance of strengthening the regional architecture to effectively address common transnational challenges such as maritime security, cybersecurity, and countering violent extremism. Both sides highlighted the importance of the U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership and the principles underpinning this relationship, as outlined in the 2016 Sunnylands Declaration. They welcomed the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s founding and the 40th anniversary of United States-ASEAN relations and committed to continuing support for joint contributions to the Third Country Training Program aimed at enhancing connectivity and regional resilience. President Trump looks forward to attending the November multilateral summits in Southeast Asia and offered his full support for Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2018.
President Trump warmly accepted Prime Minister Lee’s invitation to visit Singapore in 2018, and they both recognized Singapore’s steadfast partnership on issues of mutual interest and shared principles. Singapore has been an anchor for the presence of the United States in the Indo-Pacific, underpinning regional peace and prosperity for the common benefit of the region and the United States.
Separately, PM Lee met National Security Advisor (NSA) H R McMaster on Tuesday. During the discussions, they spoke about regional and international developments.
Both sides exchanged views on the threat of terrorism in the region and expressed concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Mr Lee and Mr McMaster also agreed on the importance of the US’ continued commitment towards deepening its engagement of the Asia-Pacific.
PM Lee will have a dialogue at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. He will also have meetings with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
Mr Lee is scheduled to meet key Congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin, and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.