BEIJING: Singapore and China inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Sunday (Apr 8) to promote greater collaboration between companies from both countries in third-party markets along the Belt and Road routes.
The MOU, witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, will see the formation of a working group between the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), China's National Development and Reform Commission, and Enterprise Singapore.
The group will identify sectors and markets of mutual interest, organise business-matching activities and forums to facilitate third-party market cooperation between Singapore and Chinese companies under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Both countries will also work with commercial and policy banks, insurers and financial institutions to support the financing and project structuring needs of third-party market ventures by companies from both sides.
“This MOU will pave the way for closer partnerships between our companies in third-party markets, one of the key cooperation pillars that Singapore and China have identified under the Belt and Road Initiative. Singapore’s strength as a key infrastructure, financial and legal hub in the region will add value to Chinese companies expanding along the Belt and Road," said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang.
This is MTI's first Belt and Road-related MOU, which is signed on the sidelines of PM Lee's five-day visit to China.
MORE WORK WITH CHINA ON BILATERAL, ASEAN FRONTS
Earlier, Mr Lee reiterated the strong bilateral relations between Singapore and China during a meeting with Premier Li, who accepted an invitation to make an official bilateral visit to Singapore in conjunction with his attendance at the ASEAN-related Summits in November this year.
Premier Li informed PM Lee that Politburo Standing Committee member and Executive Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng will be the new Chinese co-chair of the Joint Cooperation for Bilateral Council (JCBC), replacing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
Mr Lee also congratulated Premier Li on his successful re-election last month and said that he "looks forward to working with him on our bilateral accounts, on bilateral cooperation and also on the ASEAN accounts".
Both leaders agreed that ASEAN-China relations have made good progress over the last few years. On that note, Premier Li expressed appreciation for Singapore’s constructive role as the coordinator of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations since 2015.
"We are the chairman of ASEAN this year. We will continue to be the ASEAN coordinator for relations with China for the first half of this year," Mr Lee said.
"We'll make further efforts toward deepening and enhancing our relations and cooperation, bilaterally as well as in the region," he added.
Both leaders stressed the importance of maintaining an open and free trading system under the World Trade Organisation framework which, PM Lee had earlier said, China has “committed to and benefited from”.
On this trip, Mr Lee will also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Vice-President Wang Qishan and Communist Party Secretary for Shanghai Li Qiang.