Singapore and Australia sign green economy agreement to advance trade and environmental sustainability
28 October 2022
On 18 October 2022, Singapore and Australia signed the Singapore-Australia Green Economy Agreement (“SAGEA”). The SAGEA is Singapore’s first green economy agreement and the world’s first agreement of its kind. The SAGEA fosters common rules and standards to promote trade and investment in environmental goods and services, develop interoperable policy frameworks to support new green growth sectors, and catalyse technology development and cooperative projects in the emerging green economy.
The key benefits of the SAGEA are to:
- increase access to and adoption of environmental goods and service
- support job creation in green growth sectors
- promote development and commercialisation of green technologies
- reduce regulatory burdens and operating costs for exporters of environmental goods and services
The SAGEA sets out cooperation in seven areas: (1) trade and investment, (2) standards and conformance, (3) green and transition finance, (4) carbon markets, (5) clean energy, decarbonisation and technology, (6) skills and capabilities for green growth, and (7) business engagements and partnerships.
Singapore and Australia agreed on 17 joint initiatives under the SAGEA as part of initial efforts to pursue cooperative projects in forward-looking and emerging areas. These include the Austrade-Enterprise Singapore Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) (“Austrade-EnterpriseSG MOU”) to support green business partnership, an MOU on cooperation in environmental protection and promotion of ecolabelling certification, and the establishment of a joint workgroup on cross-border electricity trading. More information about these initiatives can be found in the Singapore-Australia Green Economy Agreement Joint Initiatives infographic.
The following is a summary of the seven areas of cooperation under the SAGEA.
1. Trade and investment
- Environmental goods and services: Singapore and Australia have developed two lists of 372 Environmental Goods and 155 Environmental Services respectively, with a view to supporting international efforts to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services. The two lists are non-exhaustive and will be reviewed periodically to keep pace with developments in environmental technologies.
- Non-tariff barriers: Singapore and Australia will cooperate on identifying and addressing non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services, with the goal of reducing costs for exporters and increasing deployment of and access to green and low-emissions technology. This will be achieved through government-to-government (G2G) cooperation and engagements with industry.
- Trade facilitation: Singapore and Australia will work on a Digital Verification Platform Project which aims to reduce environmental costs through digital trade procedures and steps towards a paperless trade environment.
- Environmentally sustainable government procurement: A set of principles has been jointly developed by Singapore and Australia to ensure a level playing field, such as transparency and non-discrimination, when environmental sustainability criteria are considered in government procurement.
- Sustainable agriculture food systems: Singapore and Australia will collaborate on ideas and initiatives that promote best practices for sustainable agri-food systems, with the aim of addressing global food security concerns, limiting the effects of climate change and reducing the impact of agri-food systems on the environment.
2. Standards and conformance
- The two countries will explore opportunities for bilateral and international cooperation on standards, technical regulations, metrology and conformity assessment procedures for priority sectors in the green economy. This would reduce compliance costs for exporters of environmental goods by increasing compatibility, reliability and interoperability of the two markets.
3. Green and transition finance
- Singapore and Australia commit to cooperate on interoperable taxonomies, climate-related financial disclosures, green and transition finance solutions, as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and FinTech solutions.
4. Carbon markets
- Singapore and Australia will collaborate to support the development of compatible and credible international carbon markets, with high standards of social and environmental integrity. The two countries will also collaborate to support, strengthen and enhance climate actions by partners in the region, including through mobilising resources, such as private and institutional capital, and facilitating the research, development and deployment of innovative low-emissions technology through the development of carbon markets.
5. Clean energy, decarbonisation and technology
- Cross-border electricity trade: A joint working group will be established to develop the architecture for cross-border electricity trade and enhance regional energy connectivity. This will build on existing arrangements (including free trade agreements) where appropriate, and convene relevant technical and policy experts for information sharing.
- Green shipping cooperation: The two countries will establish partnerships to advance their common objective to establish green shipping corridors under the Clydebank Declaration and accelerate development of relevant technologies that contribute to reducing emissions from shipping.
- Sustainable aviation cooperation: A joint working group will be set up to discuss aviation environmental cooperation with priority areas in (1) exchanges on policies and mechanisms that support the decarbonisation of the aviation sector, including scale up in production and uptake of sustainable aviation fuels; (2) exchanges of experience to decarbonise airport infrastructure and practices and air traffic management; and (3) identification of emerging industry partnerships and mechanisms to accelerate the commercial delivery of sustainable aviation fuels and other regional and global initiatives.
- Research and development collaboration: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and A*STAR concluded a Master Research Collaboration Agreement to promote bilateral research and development collaborations between Australia- and Singapore-based public and private institutes and organisations in four areas namely circular economy and low emissions technologies, food, digital environment, and future of materials in advanced manufacturing.
6. Skills and capabilities for green growth
- The Australia-Singapore Green Skills Roundtable will be set up for policy, technical and subject-matter experts from relevant government agencies across the two countries. The informal roundtable will seek to exchange information, experiences and best practices related to the identification and assessment of core skills and competencies required for workers to take on jobs and occupations in the green economy.
7. Business engagements and partnerships
- Go-green co-innovation program: Australia and Singapore will work together to support SMEs in their efforts to jointly develop innovative green products, services and technologies through grants and business matching services.
- Green business partnership: The Austrade-EnterpriseSG MOU will promote and facilitate business-to-business engagements such as business missions, joint webinars, and joint promotion of green economy opportunities and events, with a view to expanding bilateral trade and investment in priority green economy sectors.
- Ecolabelling: Singapore and Australia will collaborate on environmental sustainability policies and programs related to ecolabels. The Singapore Environment Council and Good Environmental Choice Australia will sign a cooperation MOU, with a view towards mutual recognition and co-promotion of select ecolabels, and upskilling capabilities in ecolabel schemes.
- Statistical measurement of the green economy: Singapore and Australia have formed a technical working group on environmental-economic statistical measurements. Both countries will also conduct information exchanges on the use of environmental-economic data for green economy policy decisions and reporting.
The following materials are available on the Singapore Government website www.gov.sg: