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India Singapore relations

2023 JUN 8

Mains   > International relations   >   India and Global Powers   >   India & South East Asia


  • Senior officials from about two dozen of the world's major intelligence agencies held a secret meeting on the fringes of the Shangri-La Dialogue security meeting in Singapore. Such meetings are organised by the Singapore government and have been discreetly held at a separate venue alongside the security summit for several years.


  • Singapore is an island country and city-state, located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula.
  • The nation is one of the Four Asian Tigers, with its growth based mostly on international trade and economic globalisation.

Note: The Four Asian Tigers define the high-growth economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

  • Singapore shares borders with the Strait of Malacca to the west, the Singapore Strait to the south, the South China Sea to the east, and the Straits of Johor to the north.
  • The close ties between India and Singapore have a history rooted in strong commercial, cultural and people-to-people links across a millennium. India was one of the first countries to recognize Singapore in 1965.


  • Diplomatic:
    • The India-Singapore relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2015.
    • Visits by Prime ministers, foreign ministers and other high-level officials are frequent. A new high-level Ministerial mechanism called India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable (ISMR) was established in 2022 to chart a roadmap to take bilateral relations to a new level.
  • Trade relations:
    • Bilateral trade relations are guided by the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). India has also signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Singapore in 2011.
    • Singapore is India’s largest trade partner in ASEAN. India was Singapore’s 12th largest trade partner while Singapore was India’s 6th largest trade partner with a share of 2.9% of India’s overall trade (2021-22).
  • Foreign direct investment:
    • Singapore is a leading source of FDI and among the largest sources of External Commercial Borrowings and Foreign Portfolio Investment.
    • The cumulative FDI inflows from Singapore to India from 2000 to 2022 was 23% of total FDI inflows in India.
    • More than 80 % of listed offshore bonds by Indian issuers are listed on Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX).
  • Connectivity:
    • The Air Services Agreement was revised in 2005 and MoU on bilateral air services arrangements was signed in 2013. Singapore is now directly connected to 15 Indian cities by 8 airlines.
  • Multilateral:
    • Both are members of a number of forums, including East Asia Summit, G20, Commonwealth, IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) and IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium) and there is great convergence on a broad range of international issues.
  • Urban development:
    • Singaporean companies continue to participate in a number of smart cities, urban planning, logistics and infrastructure projects. Singapore is also working with Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra in preparing Master Plans for townships.
  • Skill development:
    • Singapore is working with the Central and State Governments as well as Government organisations to establish skill development centres in various sectors. Eg: A World Class Skill Centre (WCSC) has been set in Delhi in 2013.
  • Fintech:
    • India and Singapore have linked their digital payments systems, UPI and PayNow, to enable instant and low-cost fund transfers
    • Commercial and technical arrangements have also been worked out for the acceptance of RuPay domestic card in Singapore, in addition to the RuPay International Card
  • Innovation:
    • There is ongoing cooperation between leading Indian and Singaporean institutions in Innovation.
    • Eg: The India-Singapore Entrepreneruship Bridge (InSpreneur) enables startups, investors, incubators, and aspiring entrepreneurs of both countries to connect with one another and provide them with resources to expand and become globalized players.
  • Defence:
    • The countries engage in Annual Ministerial and Secretary level dialogues, talks between Armed forces, training of Singapore Army and Air force in India and Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism. An enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement was also signed in 2015.
    • Defence exercises: Bilateral (Operation Bold Kurukshetra and Exercise Agni Warrior) as well as multilateral (India, Singapore and Thailand (SITMEX), MILAN)
    • Singapore’s membership of IORA and India’s membership of ADMM+ (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting - Plus) provides a platform for both countries to coordinate positions on regional issues of mutual concern.
  • Science & Technology Cooperation:
    • In 2022, India and Singapore signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Fields of Science, Technology, and Innovation at the inaugural session of the India-Singapore Technology Summit 2022.
    • ISRO launched Singapore’s first indigenously built micro-satellite in 2011
  • Humanitarian aid:
    • Singapore provided logistic support to India during the second wave of COVID 19.
  • Diaspora and Indian Community
    • Tamil is one of the four official languages of Singapore. Ethnic Indians constitute about 9.1 % of the resident population.
    • In addition, around 2.5 lakhs foreigners residing in Singapore are estimated to be Indian expatriates.
    • In 2019, about 1.41 million Indian tourists visited Singapore, making India the third largest source of tourism for Singapore.

Read more on India ASEAN Relations here:



Q. Indian Diaspora has an important role to play in South-East Asian countries’ economy and society. Appraise the role of Indian Diaspora in South- East Asia in this context. (GS 2, CSE 2017)