Australia wants to begin negotiating a new economic agreement with ASEAN members and other major neighbours later this year.
The ASEAN initiative got the thumbs-up from Trade Minister Craig Emerson and his Singaporean counterpart Lim Hng Kiang when the pair met for bilateral discussions in Canberra today.
An accord would potentially tie the 10 ASEAN nations, which include Singapore, and six others - China, Japan, Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia - in a formal trade partnership.
"We hope to be in a position where leaders later in the year in November would be able to formally agree to launch those negotiations," Dr Emerson told reporters in Canberra.
He said Singapore was a key driver of trade liberalisation and was proud to be in such a strong alliance.
Both nations were committed to investigating the "many paths to the mountain top", he said.
Mr Lim agreed they both sang from the same "song shee", although he joked Dr Emerson was a much better singer.
"He's just saying that," Dr Emerson demurred.Today's talks also brought together the countries' foreign and defence ministers, with Afghanistan, tensions in the South China Sea and tertiary education among the items up for discussion.
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