International Relations for UPSC IAS Main Exam : India and Singapore

Indians constitute about 10% of the total population. 2015 also marks the 50th year of diplomatic relations between Singapore and India which started since Singapore independence in 1965.

Created On: Nov 20, 2015 19:55 IST

India and Singapore as a legacy of the British rule had similar administrative and economic structures.  Indians constitute about 10% of the total population. 2015 also marks the 50th year of diplomatic relations between Singapore and India which started since Singapore independence in 1965.

Political relations

Political relationship between two countries has been endorsed by high level visits and contacts. Additionally economic reforms of 1990 and look east policy leveraged ties between both the countries. Beyond visits many regional forums like RCEP(regional comprehensive economic partnership),ASEAN,EAS, ARF,ADMM-Plus and Shangri-La dialogue endorse relationship between India and Singapore. Singapore also supported India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC.


Singapore was one of the first to respond to India’s look east policy and acted as crucial trading leg to access far east. Through the extended Look East policy  called “Act East Policy”, India is  aspiring to bring on board ASEAN member countries, but also the countries of the far reaching  Asia-Pacific region in political, strategic, cultural, and economic domains.

Commercial ties

CECA 2005
Singapore was the sixth top investor into India 2000. Since CECA,investments from  Singapore has unwaveringly surged.  India's first-ever Free Trade Agreement Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed in 2005. In the last 10 years  trade between India and Singapore almost tripled. Singapore looks forward to the conclusion of the second review and update of CECA.


India export to Singapore in 2014-2015 is 3.16% of total exports. In India’s equity market as FIIs,Singaporean companies have been active. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) FDI data for March 2014 Singapore turn into the top source of FDI into India. In 2014 25% of FDI inflows was reported from Singapore in biotechnology, Infocomm and media, pharmaceuticals and sectors.
Singapore has emerged as a key offshore logistics and financial hub for many Indian corporate houses on account of its location advantage, global connectivity through Malacca strait, conducive investment environment and particularly double tax avoidance agreement.

Future prospects

Ties with Singapore vital for countering menance of round tripping.
Singapore ITE collaborated with Delhi government and Rajasthan government to set up training  in retail and hospitality sector. . In Modi’s visit on November 23-24,2015 the country looks upon  a opportunity to widen the collaboration to a national level by syncing up the ITE concept to PM Modi’s Skill India initiative.

In the forecoming visit  the both countries layout a 'five S' strategy to strengthen bilateral ties - Scaling up trade and investments, Speeding up of air, maritime connectivity, Skill development, Smart city and urban rejuvenation and State focus in augumenting cultural ties. India efforts in simplification of regulation and tax reforms was welcomed and appreciated by Singapore.
Singapore’s competence and technical know-how can be sought in estabilishing infrastructure, smart cities, construction of ports and advocating e-governance which crucial part of Digital India campaign. Andhra Pradesh Government has also preferred  Singapore’s expertise  in building a series of ports, Smart cities and in implanting a petro-chemical corridor in the State.

People to people ties

Many Indian nationals live and work in Singapore, including large numbers of IIT and IIM alumni. Singapore is the preferred location of Indian Film academy for awards and Indian films has huge market in Singapore.
A series of MoUs were signed that have led to enhanced partnership between the two countries in technical,management education,resource sharing and human resource development.
Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Temple of Fine Arts, Chitrakala Arts are some of the popular cultural societies which promote Indian dance and art forms
GOI introduced “Tourist Visa-on-Arrival” in 2010 for citizens of selected countries, including Singapore which boosted trade and people to people connect.

Defence ties

India and Singapore signed Defence Cooperation Agreement in 2003. Additionally We now have an annual Defence Policy Dialogue chaired by the  Secretaries and also Defence  Ministers frequently exchange visits.

The Air Force and Army Bilateral Agreements were first signed in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The Singapore and Indian Armies are conducting bilateral artillery training Agni Warrior. Both our air forces are also conducting Joint Military Training in West Bengal. Our navies have also held training exercises SIMBEX.

With strong ethnic , cultural commonality and geopolitical significance  Singapore will be key in strengthening India’s strategic role in ASEAN and far East. Nov23 2015 visit of Indian prime minister is believed to elevate our relation with Singapore to strategic partnership which will also catalyse Modi’s rejunuvated “Act east policy”.

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