Singapore welcomes Ardern, top-level talks continue

Source: 1News

Jacinda Ardern was welcomed with a lavish state ceremony in Singapore on Tuesday during her first international trip since the Covid pandemic began. It’s also the first time Singapore has welcomed a world leader post-Covid.

Ardern attended the ceremony along with Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. A pink hybrid orchid named after her was also presented.

New Zealand media were allowed to ask two questions of Loong, those questions surrounded the potential of the US to re-join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Loong said he would “dearly love” to see the US to come back but those opportunities are “off the table because politics does not make it possible”.

Ardern said the New Zealand Government would continue to offer up opportunities where the US could demonstrate an engagement in the “economic architecture and the economic well-being of this region”.

READ MORE: PM to talk trade, Ukraine war, regional pressures in Singapore

New Zealand and Singapore are united in trying to get the US back into the multi-lateral trade deal America pulled out of in 2017.

There are 50 people that are part of the Government's trade delegation, made up of officials relating to the Prime Minister, as well as media, business and Defence Force delegation.

Jacinda Ardern welcomed to Singapore

Three members of the delegation tested positive for Covid upon arrival, which has meant they won’t be attending the Japan leg of the trip.

Ardern on Tuesday also announced that New Zealand was relaunching and expanding its Working Holiday Scheme with Singapore and would welcome applications from May 5.

READ MORE: 3 members of PM's trade delegation test positive for Covid

The Prime Minister met with young people in Singapore who had been on the scheme or were interested in applying.

Up to 300 people, aged between 18 and 30 and with two years of tertiary education under their belt, will be able to work for 12 months in the other country under the revised scheme.

“Working holidaymakers are also tourists during their stay and tend to visit multiple regions, which will be beneficial for the tourism sector, hospitality, retail and local economies throughout New Zealand,” Ardern said.

The Scheme was part of the Singapore New Zealand Enhanced Partnership announced in May 2019 but the Covid pandemic prevented it from being operationalised.