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United States Vice President Kamala Harris and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference in Singapore on August 23, 2021. ― Reuters pic
United States Vice President Kamala Harris and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference in Singapore on August 23, 2021. ― Reuters pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 24 — Singapore and the United States have signed three agreements to strengthen cooperation in cyber security, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday (August 23) during a visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris to the Republic.

The two countries have also struck a new Climate Partnership that focuses on solutions in carbon credits, green goods, services and technology.

Harris, who arrived in Singapore on August 22 for a three-day visit, called on President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Monday before meeting Mr Lee. At the Istana, a new orchid hybrid — the Papilionanda Kamala Harris — was also named after her.

Speaking to the media in a joint press conference with Lee, Harris said: “Today, we are in Singapore to stress and reaffirm our enduring relationship to this country and in this region, and to reinforce a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and to reaffirm our mutual interests in peace and stability in Southeast Asia.”

The discussion with Lee, which lasted for around 90 minutes, was productive, she added.

Lee said that their meeting has resulted in a “substantial agenda of deliverables”, which will enhance the partnership between the US and Singapore. 

“I’m confident that our longstanding and multi-faceted bilateral relationship will continue to strengthen year by year,” he said.

Climate partnership

The new Climate Partnership will strengthen collaboration on climate action and environmental governance as well as sustainable development and low-carbon solutions, which will create good jobs in green growth sectors, Lee said.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said that potential areas of collaboration include:

Sustainable finance, including tapping private capital for sustainable infrastructure, and financial sector climate and environmental risk management

Energy transitions, including clean energy infrastructure development and sustainable transport

Quality carbon credit markets

Expert consultations on setting green standards, the mobilisation of high-quality sustainable finance, and the analysis, management and disclosure of climate and environmental financial risks

Defence and cybersecurity deals

The cyber, defence and finance agencies of both countries have signed three agreements to strengthen cooperation in critical technology, infrastructure protections, data security and sharing of best practices, said Lee.

The deals were inked prior to Harris’ visit and were announced by Lee yesterday.

On Friday, Singapore’s Defence Ministry and the US’ Department of Defence had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in cyberspace, which aims to institutionalise cyber cooperation between both defence establishments.

Other security-related agreements between the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the US’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the US Department of the Treasury, were also announced.

Lee noted that Harris’ visit came after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s last month.

“It emphasises the US administration’s commitment to this region, and shows that the US has both strategic and economic stakes in Southeast Asia,” he added.

Lee said that both countries will also elevate the US-Singapore Collaboration Platform MoU into a new Partnership for Growth and Innovation. The MoU was last renewed in 2018 during previous US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Singapore.

The US and Singapore will also cooperate on future ventures into the frontier of space, as well as the pandemic.

Such sharing between both nations on genome sequencing and epidemic intelligence will help speed up identification of new Covid-19 variants as well as emerging disease threats, and augment regional preparedness for current and future pandemics, said Lee.

VP Harris to deliver policy speech on Tuesday

Following the press conference, Harris will visit Changi Naval Base and board the US Navy’s littoral combat ship USS Tulsa.

She will be in Singapore until today (August 24), when she will participate in a roundtable meeting with the business community with Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, and is expected to deliver a speech on US foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific.

Harris is due to depart for Vietnam in the second and final leg of her regional tour. ― TODAY

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