History and Background
India and Singapore have a millennia-old history of close commercial, cultural, and people-to-people ties.
In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles built a trading post in Singapore on the route of the Straits of Malacca. After then, Singapore became a crown colony and was controlled from Kolkata until 1867.
India was one of the first countries to recognise Singapore in 1965. The colonial link between the countries is reflected in the institutions and customs, as well as the use of English and the presence of a sizable Indian community.
Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
The signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in 2005, elevated the strong relationship to a Strategic Partnership. This was the first such agreement to be signed by India with any country.
It integrates agreements on trade in goods and services, investment protection and economic cooperation in fields like education, intellectual property and science and technology.
It also provides Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAS) that eliminates duplicative testing and certification of products in sectors where there are mandatory technical requirements.
The implementation of CECA is to be periodically reviewed by the two Governments and the closure of the 1st Review was announced on 1st October 2007. The 2nd Review was formally launched in May 2018.
India-Singapore relations are founded on shared values and perspectives, economic opportunity, and common interests on critical problems. Political engagement occurs on a regular basis. Defence ties are particularly robust. Economic and technological relations between the two countries are extensive and developing. Cultural and human connections are quite vibrant.
There are over twenty bilateral procedures, discussions, and exercises that take place on a regular basis. There is considerable consensus on a wide variety of international problems, and both countries are members of a number of organisations, including the East Asia Summit, the G20, the Commonwealth, the IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), and the IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium).
The agreements established between India and Singapore reflect the two countries' developing general cooperation, providing a broader framework for bilateral engagements, commercial transactions, and people-to-people encounters.
The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (2005) and its Second Review (2018).
The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (1994, Protocols signed in 2011)
The Bilateral Air Services Agreement (1968, revised in 2013)
The Defence Cooperation Agreement (1968, revised in 2013)
Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance (2005)
Mutual Recognizance Agreement on Nursing Cooperation (2018) and Fintech Cooperation (2018)
Defence and Security
In the area of defence, India and Singapore have a long-standing and comprehensive partnership that includes annual Ministerial and Secretary-level dialogues and other discussions between the three armed forces.
The relations between both the countries can be analysed through that both the countries train their armed forces together, Annual training in Singapore Army and Air force In India (10th edition in 2019).
Singapore participates in IONS and the Indian Navy's multinational exercise MILAN. Singapore's membership in IORA and India's in ADDM+ (ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting - Plus) provides a forum for the two countries to coordinate their stances on regional matters of mutual significance.
SIMTEX: The Trilateral Maritime Exercise between India, Singapore, and Thailand (SITMEX) took place in September 2019 in the Andaman Sea, with the intention of holding it annually in alternate locations.
In August 2019, the Indian Naval Ship Sagardhwani paid a visit to Singapore to encourage scientific collaboration between Indian agencies such as DRDO and Singaporean authorities.
India expressed its preparedness to allow Singapore to conduct missile test firings at the Chandipur Integrated Test Range. Also, the two sides agreed to expand maritime information exchange, strengthen HADR collaboration, and investigate areas of cooperation such as geospatial data, cyber security, and the establishment of Joint Test Facilities under India's Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme.
Science and Technology
ISRO launched Singapore's first indigenously manufactured microsatellite in 2011; two additional satellites were launched in 2014, and six more in 2015.
In 2018, NTU signed six memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with NITI Aayog for research and exchange partnerships in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, and big data analytics to advance healthcare, cybersecurity, automation, mobility, smart energy systems, and e-governance, joint PhD and research with IITs and IISc Bengaluru, space research with the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).
Cooperation in Trade, Economics, and Development
India and Singapore agreed upon Five areas of cooperation in 2014:
- Increased trade and investment
- Increased connectivity
- Smart Cities & Urban Rejuvenation
- Skill development
- State focus.
FinTech & Innovation were identified as the new drivers of bilateral ties in 2018.
Singapore is India's largest ASEAN trading partner. It is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment and ranks second in terms of External Commercial Borrowings and Foreign Portfolio Investment.
Bilateral trade increased from USD 6.7 billion in FY 2004-05 to USD 27.85 billion in 2018-19 following the end of CECA. In FY 18-19, we imported USD 16.28 billion from Singapore and exported USD 11.57 billion to India.
Bilateral trade totalled USD17.9 billion in the fiscal year 2019-20 (through December 2019), with exports to Singapore accounting for USD 7.1 billion.
Performing arts, theatre, museum exchanges, art, languages, and youth exchanges are all examples of cultural exchanges. Inter-governmental cultural cooperation is governed by a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding and Executive Programs for specific time periods.
The substantial Indian diaspora in Singapore, sponsored by ICCR and the Mission, has maintained a high level of cultural activity in Singapore, thanks to a variety of cultural organisations and Singapore's official assistance.
In January 2020, Mission sponsored a concert that brought together the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and Sarod Maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Language teaching, yoga, and the arts are also promoted by regional and community-based organisations.
In October, two young Singapore cricketers took part in a month-long training camp in Bengaluru that included 58 young players from throughout the Commonwealth.
India's National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets visited Singapore in November, and Singapore's NCC squad visited India in October and January of this year.