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Aust-Singapore trade deal to get update

Australian lawyers, financial service companies and some graduates are set to benefit from a revamped trade deal with Singapore.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong discussed updating the trade pact in Canberra on Thursday, ahead of their trade ministers signing the agreement for the most comprehensive improvement of an Australian trade deal.

The governments also signed agreements on military training, co-operation on innovation and science, and improving efforts to combat transnational drug crime.

Mr Turnbull said the combined signings were the first tranche of historic agreements advancing the comprehensive and strategic partnership between the nations.

The meeting between himself, Mr Lee and their cabinet ministers on Thursday would entail "a very open and characteristically frank and constructive discussion".

Mr Lee noted discussions went well beyond the specific agreements.

"In fact, we talk about many things beyond the formal topics - our experiences together ... and how we can get to understand one another better," he said at the opening of the meeting.

Under the upgraded trade deal, industries including education, law, financial and professional services will get a leg-up with greater freedoms and access doing business in the island city-state.

Aussie legal eagles and their firms will get greater certainty to practice Singapore law.

Engineers and accountants could soon have their qualifications recognised by Singapore, with priority for these professions to be given as part of formal negotiations.

Singapore will also recognise Australian tertiary qualifications including juris doctor degrees, as well as those in allied health such as physiotherapy, occupation and speech therapy from a number of Australian universities.

Finance firms will also be able to provide a range of services on cross-border deals with Singapore.

The updated pact will also guarantee the free flow of data across borders for service suppliers and investors conducting business.

Businesses will not be forced into using local computing facilities or build data storage centres.

And customs duties won't be imposed on electronically transmitted content.

Tourists using the Singapore's phone network could also benefit with reasonable rates for international mobile roaming services being pursued.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said it was a big win for service providers.

"Singapore is giving Australia its best FTA treatment, putting our exporters on an equal or better footing than our foreign competitors," he told AAP.

"It will open doors for Australian service providers looking to expand offshore."