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Map of Singapore

Map of Singapore.
flag of the Republic of Singapore.

The Republic of Singapore


New Zealand’s links with Singapore are among its longest-established and closest in Asia. The two countries both have open economies and often take similar views internationally and regionally on trade issues. Singapore provides New Zealand with valuable insights into ASEAN thinking and processes.

The bilateral relationship dates back to well before Singaporean independence from Malaysia in 1965. During the Second World War, New Zealand fliers played a notable role in the air defence of Singapore. Post war, New Zealand stationed an infantry battalion and air units in Singapore between 1969 and 1989. Strong defence links have continued in the years since.

During the 1980s, Singapore’s economic boom helped drive an important bilateral trade relationship. Today, Singapore is New Zealand’s seventh-largest merchandise trading partner and a base for New Zealand businesses operating throughout South East Asia.

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Bilateral Relationship

Trade and economic realtionship

The first major economic agreement between New Zealand and Singapore was the Agreement on a Closer Economic Partnership (ANZSCEP), New Zealand’s second CEP after CER with Australia. This entered into force on 1 January 2001 and remains one of New Zealand’s most comprehensive international economic arrangements.

Total two-way trade between Singapore and New Zealand in the December 2012 year was NZ $2.88 billion, down slightly on the $2.90 billion of the December 2011 year.

New Zealand Trade (year ended Dec 2012)


NZ’s 6th largest trading partner

NZ Exports

NZ$845 million (FOB)

Main exports

Dairy ($300m);  Oil ($89m); Meat ($66m)

NZ Imports

NZ$2,039 million (CIF)

Main imports

Oil ($1,404m); Machinery ($102m); Electrical machinery ($100m);

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The CEP became the foundation for the 2005 "P4" trade agreement between New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile that is now in the process of evolving into the potentially much larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

In parallel to the TPP, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei have negotiated a binding Environment Cooperation Agreement and a binding Labour Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding.

Singapore was a central player in the development and conclusion of the Australia/New Zealand/ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) that was agreed in September 2008 and entered into force on 1 January 2010. This agreement is expected to be worth around $50 million in tariff savings per year to New Zealand.

As an open and heavily export-dependent economy, Singapore was particularly hard-hit by the 2008-09 downturn, but has recovered rapidly. Its GDP grew by 14.8 percent in 2010, following a contraction of 2 percent in 2009. Its economic growth moderated in 2011 to 4.9 percent and appears to be cooling further with an estimated growth of 2.7% in 2012.

Increasing New Zealand effort is going into promoting innovation and research-based industry in which there are good synergies with Singaporean capital and global business connections. Biotechnology, 'clean' technology, ICT and the creative industries show particular promise. Singapore has made vast investments in implementing state-of-the art science development and commercialisation programmes.

Singapore is an important source of investment for New Zealand. The stock of Singaporean foreign direct investment in New Zealand at March 2011 was NZ$2 billion up from NZ$1581 million in March 2010.

Political and cultural links


Defence links, which date back to the Second World War, form a significant part of the New Zealand-Singapore relationship. Arrangements for training assistance and other cooperation were formalised in a bilateral agreement concluded between the two Governments in 1971 in parallel with the establishment of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

New Zealand takes part in a many bilateral and multilateral naval, air and army exercises with Singapore. In terms of overall activity, Singapore is New Zealand’s second-largest defence partner in the Asia-Pacific after Australia.

The maturity of the Singapore-New Zealand defence relationship and a history of defence cooperation yield benefits for both countries. Singaporean forces have operated with the New Zealand Defence Force in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. The two armed forces exercise and train together regularly.

New Zealand signed a Defence Cooperation Arrangement with Singapore in May 2009. This formalises the existing close defence ties between the two countries.

In 2010 New Zealand became part of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) process, of which Singapore is a key member. In February 2011, SAF troops exercising in the South Island took part in search and rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, symbolising excellent bilateral ties.


In the year ended December 2011, some 38,680 Singaporean residents visited New Zealand, a 27 percent increase over the previous calendar year.


Regional and multilateral Links

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is a founding member, is a centrepiece of Singapore’s foreign policy. New Zealand is linked closely to ASEAN as a Dialogue Partner. Singapore, with its close historical ties to New Zealand, has been a key “window” for us into ASEAN processes and planning, and often shares similar views to New Zealand’s on regional initiatives.

Singapore and New Zealand are members of, and work together closely in, regional and wider groupings including APEC (of which Singapore was the 2009 host), the security-focused ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Singapore is a strong supporter of international law, particularly the sanctity of national sovereignty, and plays an active role in both the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

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Recent New Zealand high-level visits to Singapore

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Recent Singaporean high-level visits to New Zealand

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Travel Advice

The Safe Travel [external link] website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Singapore.

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Page last updated: Monday, 09 December 2013 13:00 NZDT