Prime Minister and Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong lately chaired definitive bilateral talks on defence cooperation.
The counterparts inked eight agreements including one on logistics cooperation between their navies.
Amidst discussions on regional and global issues of mutual interests, Prime Minister Modi said that the strategic partnership between India and Singapore has stood the test of time in the real sense.
Modi in a joint press statement noted, “We have been able to conclude successfully the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) but we agreed this is not just our target and goal but this only means to an end.”
“Our officials will soon begin discussions on upgrading and reforming this agreement,” he added.
Since CECA was signed in 2004, India-Singapore bilateral trade more than doubled from SGD12 billion (USD 8.97 billions) to SGD 25 billion (USD 18.69 billion). Singapore was the second largest investor in India in FY-2016.
Modi hailed the close defence cooperation between the two countries and welcomed the completion of the logistics agreement between the two navies.
Modi and Lee also exchanged views on the regional and global challenges and reiterated their principled position on maritime security and expressed commitment to ‘Rules Based’ Order. The two leaders also agreed on the need to maintain an open, stable and fair international trade regime.
“We both have reaffirmed our views on maritime security and have shown our commitment to a ‘Rules Based’ order…We also agreed for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region,” Modi said.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its manmade islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend.
China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan.
The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.
On his part, Lee said the bilateral defence ties have grown stronger.
“Our defence ties have strengthened, our navies have signed an agreement today on logistics cooperation and will also celebrate 25th anniversary of annual Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) this year,” Lee said.
Lee said Indian tourists will be able to use their RuPay cards for electronic payments at Changi airport and selected operators across Singapore.
He said he looked forward to welcoming Modi back to Singapore in November for the East Asia Summit, and “to continue working with him to further deepen our cooperation bilaterally and regionally”.