SINGAPORE: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the launch of negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) on Saturday (Nov 7), the second day of Mr Xi's state visit to the island-state. Mr Xi's visit marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang and China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng exchanged letters to signal the start of discussions to review the FTA that came into force in 2009.
In a press release, the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said the upgraded CSFTA will provide Singapore businesses with enhanced trade facilitation and greater investment protection in China, as well as address investment barriers. "Both sides will also explore greater cooperation in areas such as legal services and financial services. To keep abreast of global developments, the CSFTA will also be enhanced with new generation elements such as E-commerce and environment," MTI said.
China is Singapore’s largest trading partner, while Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor since 2013. Singapore also became China’s largest overseas direct investment destination in ASEAN in 2014.
CHONGQING "WELL-POSITIONED AS BASE FOR INNOVATION"
“A forward-looking, substantive and comprehensive upgrade of the CSFTA will enhance support for ongoing and future collaborations between Singapore and China. Both sides will endeavour to complete the review by 2016,” said Mr Lim.
Other deals signed include a framework agreement on the development of a government-to-government project in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing with an emphasis on strategic connectivity. This is the third joint project between the governments of Singapore and China, the first two being in Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city.
MTI stated: "Chongqing is advantageously located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. As an important growth pillar of the “Belt and Road” initiative, Chongqing is well-positioned as a base to pilot innovative measures arising from China’s comprehensive deepening of reforms and to drive the development of Western China."
"The third G-to-G project reflects our mutual commitment to take bilateral relations to a higher level," said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing. "We will explore innovative measures and policy breakthroughs to catalyse the development of Western China. Given Western China’s strong potential for development in modern connectivity and modern services, this is an opportunity for Singapore companies to share their expertise and expand their presence in China.”
Representatives from both sides also signed Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in education, urban planning and management and on the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute in the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City.
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore announced that joint research institute in Guangzhou aims to develop new technologies ranging from electric vehicles and sustainable urban development to nutrition and food science.
Said NTU president, Professor Bertil Andersson: “Apart from leveraging NTU’s expertise in areas such as electromobility, urban engineering, sustainability and food sciences, the new partnership is also an excellent platform for faculty, students and the industry to interact and learn from one another. More importantly, this transnational research initiative can also help to solve common issues related to research and development faced by both Singapore and China.”
Singapore Customs and that for China minted an agreement on mutual recognition as well.