BEIJING: Singapore on Monday (Apr 29) inked five partnerships with China in the areas of business, customs enforcement and infrastructure investment.
Four memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and a framework agreement were signed at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse by representatives from both countries, including Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.
The signing was witnessed by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
SINGAPORE-SHANGHAI BUSINESS COUNCIL
A ministerial-level cooperation council will be set up between Singapore and Shanghai, making this the eighth business council Singapore has with China.
This is, however, Shanghai’s first comprehensive institutionalised platform with a foreign country.
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Called the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council (SSCCC), it will cover the Belt and Road Initiative, financial services cooperation, technology and innovation, ease of doing business, urban governance and people-to-people exchanges.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong will be the co-chairmen of the SSCCC, while Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong and Shanghai’s Vice-Mayor Xu Kunlin will serve as vice co-chairmen.
Enterprise Singapore and the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipality will serve as the Council Secretariat for Singapore and Shanghai, respectively.
The first council meeting is scheduled for May 24 in Shanghai.
Singapore and Shanghai enjoy robust economic relations, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
Singapore-Shanghai trade amounted to approximately US$13.5 billion (S$18.4 billion) last year, accounting for about 13.6 per cent of Singapore’s trade with China. As of end-2018, Singapore had over 4800 projects in Shanghai, amounting to about US$15.2 billion worth of cumulative actual investments.
ENHANCE THIRD-PARTY MARKET COOPERATION
Under the MOU on Implementation Framework for Enhancing Singapore-China Third Party Market Cooperation, Singapore’s MTI and China’s National Development and Reform Commission will formulate and maintain a list of third-party market projects between both countries.
This is a follow-up to the MOU signed last April, which aims to promote greater collaboration between Singaporean and Chinese companies in third-party markets along the Belt and Road.
Sectors highlighted as areas for collaboration in these third-party markets include logistics, e-commerce, infrastructure and professional services.
The Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious project initiated by China to connect countries within Asia, Europe and Africa by rebuilding the old Silk Road.
MTI statistics said Singapore was the biggest overseas investment destination for China along the Belt and Road, capturing close to 23 per cent of total investment outflow in 2018.
COOPERATE ON CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
Singapore Customs and China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) have committed to exchanging information and rendering assistance to each other in the investigation and handling of customs offences.
Under the new MOU, both customs administrations will also be able to share observations and findings from successful applications of new customs enforcement equipment and techniques, which may help improve enforcement capabilities.
ROLLING OUT AN ELECTRONIC ORIGIN DATA EXCHANGE SYSTEM
The second MOU between Singapore Customs and GACC will provide a formal framework for the electronic exchange of Preferential Certificate of Origins (eCO) and Certificate of Non-Manipulation (eCNM) under preferential trade arrangements.
Under the upgraded China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) signed last November, both countries had agreed to establish an Electronic Origin Data Exchange System (EODES) for the exchange of both documents.
With a formal framework, there will be more efficient information transfer to improve trade facilitation and compliance.
It also eliminates the need for hardcopy Certificates of Origin to be despatched overseas, helping companies to save time and costs. Authorities will also not need to verify the authenticity of the CO submitted.
The first phase of the EODES is set to go live on Jul 1, from which traders can begin to transmit eCO information to China. For eCNM, it will be by the end of this year.
NEW CO-INVESTMENT PLATFORM IN INFRASTRUCTURE
A US$500 million (S$681 million) infrastructure co-investment platform will be created after Surbana Jurong and Silk Road Fund signed a framework agreement on Monday.
The China-Singapore Co-Investment Platform will primarily take equity positions in infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia to promote infrastructure upgrade and connectivity.
Surbana Jurong will tap on its familiarity with local markets and recommend projects. Both parties will then jointly assess the suitability of investment.
The new platform aims to enhance China-Singapore financial connectivity from an equity dimension.
It will complement existing debt and risk mitigation initiatives, such as the debt raising provisions under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative and the Singapore-based Belt and Road Insurance Consortium, to provide underwriting capacity, insurance protection, risk management services and all-in-one solutions for the various Belt and Road projects in Asia Pacific.