Is there a Singapore-Australia travel bubble on the way?

Is there a Singapore-Australia travel bubble on the way?

The Prime Ministers of the two countries acknowledged the importance of open borders to the post-pandemic recovery.

Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore Prime Minister)

Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore Prime Minister)

Credit: Dreamstime

Local tech executives that have operations in Singapore and Australia may soon get the chance to travel between the two countries again, with their respective governments flagging a potential, if highly conditional, reopening of two-way travel.  

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 10 June 2021 in Singapore for the sixth Australia-Singapore Annual Leaders’ Meeting. 

Not only did the two reaffirm the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership as unique in its ability to be constructive, expansive and forward-looking, they also touched upon the possibility of opening travel again between the two countries. 

“The Prime Ministers acknowledged the importance of open borders to the post-pandemic recovery and committed to resuming two-way cross-border travel when the public health situation in both countries permits,” a joint statement from the two leaders said.  

“They welcomed the ongoing discussions between border, health, transport and other officials to identify detailed operational requirements for COVID-19-safe travel, including discussions on health and vaccination certificates.  

“They also discussed cooperating on welcoming the return of Singaporean students to Australia to continue with their studies,” it added. 

Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister)Credit: Supplied
Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister)

It remains to be seen when the public health situation in both countries is in such shape as to allow cross-border travel. However, Australia’s so-called travel bubble — quarantine-free travel — with New Zealand has demonstrated that such an arrangement can work.  

The two-way travel bubble opened between Australia and New Zealand in April. Although it has been temporarily paused at least once due to local cases of COVID-19, it has enabled business leaders with teams on both sides of the Tasman to finally visit their respective offices in both countries after more than a year of border closures. 

Meanwhile, during Prime Minister Morrison’s visit to Singapore, the two leaders also agreed to start discussions on an Australia-Singapore fintech bridge.  

“The fintech bridge will enhance cooperation on fintech policy and regulation and look for opportunities for collaboration on joint innovation projects, as well as facilitate investments and new business opportunities in digital trade and financial services,” the joint statement said. “The fintech bridge will build on the strong foundations of the Digital Economy Agreement between the two countries.” 

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