The Prime Minister needs to use her visit to Singapore this week to sign the stalled New Zealand – Singapore Enhanced Partnership negotiations which has now been delayed by seven months, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The National-led Government was set to sign a major Enhanced Partnership agreement with Singapore covering the areas of trade and economics, security and defence, people-to-people links and research, technology and innovation in April this year.
“It is now 332 days since Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters boasted in Parliament that the Enhanced Partnership with Singapore would be signed quickly.
“However under this Government the comprehensive upgrade to the $2.5 billion two-way economic relationship with Singapore has completely stalled.
“This was initially due to Singapore’s frustration that it wasn’t originally exempted from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill. But that was settled thanks to a late Government backdown in September.
“It is imperative that the Government makes this deal a priority. Australia is already reaping the financial and relationship benefits of upgrading its similar arrangements with Singapore over two years ago, and New Zealand needs to catch up.
“One important element of the proposed deal is for Singapore to conduct air training at Ohakea for its F15 aircraft. This would have a huge economic benefit to the Manawatu region with over 500 personnel based here, and would help build on the long, strong ties between our two Defence Forces.
“In December last year, 332 days ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he was ‘delighted to confirm talks were continuing,’ and that given he was part of a ‘new Government with a bit of drive and action’ the Ohakea proposal would get ‘settled much faster’ than under the last Government.
“We haven’t heard a peep since.
“Whether and when this comprehensive upgrade with Singapore gets over the line will be a big test for the Prime Minister this week in Singapore.”