Singapore is a highly-developed state in Southeast Asia that is a great hub for exploring the rest of the region, says Jonathan Austin, New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore, and Ambassador to the Maldives.
A long-standing relationship
Jonathan Austin: “Singapore is in New Zealand’s top 10 relationships. It is our seventh-biggest trading partner. It’s our fifth-largest source of foreign investment, and the seventh-largest source of tourists. I could go on. It’s a long-standing relationship. It is a friendly one. There are warm ties between our countries. So it is really a good place to start. We have a shared language. We have a kind of shared governance system, the way that our civil systems work, the way that our legal system works. There is a lot of familiarity around Singapore.
“I think what some New Zealanders don’t appreciate is how Singapore has transformed itself in the last 50 years. It’s now the world’s third-biggest financial centre after London and New York. Singapore is the biggest foreign investor in China and India. So you come to Singapore both for the benefits that Singapore as a developed country has, but more importantly, for Singapore’s role as a hub for Southeast Asia and as a global hub for many companies.
“When we think of Singapore, we can think of this incredible transformation of this highly-developed state in Southeast Asia. It’s also important to think it as the entry point into a much larger region of Southeast Asia.”
“I think what some New Zealanders don’t appreciate is how Singapore has transformed itself in the last 50 years.”
Future-proofing the NZ-Singapore relationship
“We have this long history with Singapore. It is a warm relationship, but really we want to provide a foundation for the next 50 years.
“We’re working on something called the Enhanced Partnership, to be launched later this year. It will provide connectivity across four main areas:
- Defence and security, building on the extent we have;
- trade and economy, which include the upgrade of our free trade agreement (which is the second FTA New Zealand made after CER Australia);
- science and innovation, where we will look at co-funding some really exciting new projects and games that leverage our respective knowledge;
- and people-to-people links – how we can get particularly young New Zealanders and young Singaporeans to experience opportunities and benefits that each country has.
“Singapore is an entry point into Asia for young New Zealanders. It’s an easy one. They speak English. They’ve got two universities in the world’s Top 20. It is a great hub for exploring the rest of Asia.
“When people think of a country that is friendly and well disposed towards New Zealand, they think of Singapore. And when Singaporeans think the same thing, New Zealand is in their list.”
– Asia Media Centre