China, Singapore starts negotiations on upgrading FTA

SINGAPORE, Nov 7:  China and Singapore today began negotiations to upgrade a bilateral Free Trade Agreement as the two nations marked 25 years of establishment of diplomatic relations with a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the launch of negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) on the second day of Xi’s state visit to the country.
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.
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 in a statement.
China is Singapore’s largest trading partner, while Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor since 2013.
Singapore, rated as Asia’s financial hub and trading centre, also became China’s largest overseas direct investment destination in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014.
“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 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.
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. (PTI)


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