WELLINGTON, April 4 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand and Singapore are to step up economic links and defense cooperation, foreign ministers of the two countries announced in Wellington Tuesday.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Singaporean counterpart Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan released a joint statement after holding talks in the New Zealand capital.
The two countries would pursue an enhanced partnership that would significantly boost collaboration in the areas of trade and economics, security and defense, people-to-people links and research, technology and innovation, and in ways that would set an example of integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
They would upgrade the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) trade agreement and seek ways to facilitate business linkages and promote increased investment collaboration.
"Singapore is an important regional partner for New Zealand, being our sixth largest trading partner, and we often take similar views internationally and regionally on issues such as trade. It is also the base for many New Zealand businesses operating throughout Southeast Asia," McCully said in a separate statement.
Total two-way annual goods trade stood at 2.5 billion NZ dollars (1.75 billion U.S. dollars), but the way that business was done and the opportunities to trade had changed since the bilateral CEP was originally signed in 2000.
Food would be a particular focus, with proposals to facilitate the movement of food in order to firmly establish Singapore's position as a gateway for New Zealand's exports to Southeast Asia.
New Zealand and Singapore would also build on the Defence Cooperation Arrangement signed in 2009, and identify opportunities to collaborate further on defense and security.
"Given the changing security landscape, New Zealand and Singapore will also work towards closer cooperation in non-traditional areas such as cybersecurity," said the statement.