Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) and New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attend the signing ceremony for Joint Declaration on Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership held at Singapore's Istana in Singapore on May 17, 2019. Jacinda Ardern is on a one-day official visit to Singapore. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)
WELLINGTON, May 17 (Xinhua) -- A closer relationship between Singapore and New Zealand was launched on Friday to strengthen trade, defense, cyber security and education as well as arts and culture ties, according to a New Zealand government statement.
The New Zealand-Singapore Enhanced Partnership, signed in Singapore by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, will bring benefits for the citizens of both countries and a substantive lift to the relationship, the statement said.
An improved working holiday scheme for young New Zealanders was also launched.
Key features of the Enhanced Partnership include an upgrade of the Free Trade Agreement which smooths the way for New Zealand companies to capitalize on opportunities in Singapore, a new Science, Technology and Innovation Arrangement funding for joint research totaling 57 million New Zealand dollars (37 million U.S. dollars), enhanced defense cooperation, and new arrangements on cyber security, arts and culture.
"Making it easier for New Zealand businesses to export is a key plank of the government's economic plan," Ardern said, adding the Enhanced Partnership makes it easier to do business with Singapore directly, and the country also acts as a gateway for New Zealand goods and services to access the growing Asian market.
Singapore is New Zealand's "closest and most significant partner in Southeast Asia" and it was the country's seventh largest trading partner globally, she said.