Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong attend a press conference in Canberra Oct. 13, 2016. Australia and Singapore on Thursday signed an update to their 2003 free trade agreement. (Xinhua/Zhao Bo)
CANBERRA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- An update to the 2003 Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be the "most comprehensive" free trade deal Australia ever signed, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said on Thursday.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is in Canberra on a three-day visit to strengthen the ties with Australia, is set to sign the updated FTA on Thursday.
The update will include new agreements in fields such as military training, trade, business services, and scientific research, while the showpiece of the agreement is a 1.7-billion-U.S dollar deal which will result in more than 14,000 Singaporean troops taking up residence at training base in north Queensland.
Minister Ciobo told The Guardian that the government was excited to sign the updated agreement with Singapore as it was the next step in fully engaging Australia with "Asia's emerging middle class," which he said is expected to grow "from 600 million today to 3 billion by 2030."
"This is the most comprehensive update of an Australian free trade agreement and shows our FTAs are living agreements that can respond to evolving business needs," he said.
The amendments will also benefit financial, legal and education industries in both nations.
Thursday's agreement comes after Lee addressed the Australian Parliament, where the Singapore PM praised the strong relationship between the two nations and pledged to maintain a healthy link for future regional prosperity.