Singapore and China sign 19 agreements to boost cooperation at annual apex meeting
The agreements were signed at the 18th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting, co-chaired by DPM Heng Swee Keat and Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng.
SINGAPORE: Singapore and China signed 19 agreements to deepen cooperation at an annual top-level bilateral meeting on Tuesday (Nov 1).
The raft of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and agreements signed – up from 14 last year and the most in recent years – covered areas such as green development and green finance, e-commerce, public health, innovation cooperation and tourism exchanges.
The “bumper crop” of 19 deliverables reflects the “growing depth and breadth” of bilateral cooperation between both countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at a press conference held after the 18th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting.
The JCBC meeting – co-chaired by Mr Heng and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng – is the highest-level annual forum between China and Singapore. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore, it was the first physical meeting between representatives from both sides since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The meetings have been very substantial and set out new directions that are in line with Singapore’s needs and our work in transforming the economy, as well as China's new development direction,” said Mr Heng.
He noted that there are three broad themes in the new agreements signed, namely green, digital and connectivity.
“These are areas of priorities – not just for our two countries, but for the region and the world,” he said.
The green-related agreements included initiatives to expand cooperation in green finance and deepen connectivity between both countries’ capital markets.
For one, a green finance taskforce will be set up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the People’s Bank of China.
This will explore options for collaboration in areas such as green and transition financing solutions, data and technology enablers to catalyse green financing flows, and enhance green investment opportunities in China and the region.
A low-carbon index family will also be jointly launched by the stock exchanges of both countries by the year-end. This aims to serve as a benchmark for fund managers to launch new green funds focused on China, ASEAN and other countries in Asia.
In addition, a separate MOU was signed by Enterprise Singapore and the Suzhou Industrial Park’s administrative committee to deepen green development cooperation.
Beyond these deals, there are “exciting new milestones” ahead, said Mr Heng.
For example, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City – one of the three bilateral projects between Singapore and China – will mark its 15th anniversary next year.
Its launch in 2008 happened “even before climate change was at the top of the global agenda”, Mr Heng added, noting that it is “timely to refresh how we pioneer low-carbon development and scale solutions”.
“The Tianjin Eco-City can serve as a very good … testbed for many of these new innovative solutions that the world will need, as we all seek to tackle the effects of climate change,” he said.
People-to-people connectivity was also discussed at the JCBC meeting, said Mr Heng. A resumption of cross-border travel will help to strengthen ties between people, while promoting economic recovery and growth, he added.
A separate release from the Prime Minister’s Office said both sides noted “good progress on this front, and tasked the respective officials to continue to build on the positive momentum”.
“Singapore will continue to work with China to gradually and safely restore weekly flights between our countries to pre-COVID levels,” Mr Heng told reporters.
Mr Han is the most senior Chinese leader to visit Singapore since the pandemic. This is also his first overseas trip since COVID-19 started.
Mr Heng said the Vice Premier's visit showed “continued importance and relevance” of JCBC as the apex platform for bilateral cooperation between Singapore and China.
“I thank Vice Premier Han for making Singapore his first overseas visit since the pandemic. I also congratulated Vice Premier Han for the successful conclusion of the recent 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
“I look forward to further strengthening the collaborations with China in the years ahead. This will benefit not just our two countries but also the region.”