Singapore and China have concluded a substantial discussion on an improved free trade agreement that will enhance market access for both countries.
Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and China Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Apr. 1, 2023 in Beijing, China.
They were witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and China’s Premier Li Qiang.
This signing signalled the conclusion of the Subsequent Negotiations on China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA).
Cornerstone to Singapore-China bilateral economic cooperation
The CSFTA is the cornerstone of Singapore-China bilateral economic cooperation and has provided a legal foundation to support economic ties between the two countries since it was signed in 2008.
It was also China’s first comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement with an Asian country.
The improved CSFTA will offer more liberal and transparent rules to level the playing field for investors and service suppliers from one country to another.
It will also improve transparency in domestic regulatory processes, improve competition, and facilitate industry participation in collaborative activities for innovation and development. It also provides improved market access commitments by both sides, enabling businesses to better capture opportunities in each other’s economies.
PM Lee said this “reaffirms our commitment to keep on jointly broadening our cooperation, seizing new opportunities, and tackling the challenges of tomorrow”.
According to the press statement, both countries are looking to signing the CSFTA sometime this year.
In total, both countries signed six agreements to expand cooperation in areas from food safety to the development of arts.
Meeting with Premier Li Qiang
PM Lee also met Premier Li earlier today, with both sides agreeing to step up on party-to-party engagements. PM Lee was also hosted to a Welcome Ceremony and a Lunch Banquet by Li.
Li updated PM Lee on his priorities for China, which included continuing with China’s reform and opening up, as well as ensuring high-quality development for the country.
PM Lee also expressed his in-principle support for China’s interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
According to a press release from MFA: “It is important for China to meet and adhere to the high standard rules and comprehensive market access commitments, as expected of all CPTPP members. This has to be worked out between China and all CPTPP members, on the basis of consensus.”
In a press release, Singapore reaffirmed its support for China’s national development, reform and opening up. The press release added:
“China spoke highly of Singapore’s longstanding participation in China’s modernisation journey, which has laid a strong foundation for bilateral cooperation, and expressed support for Singapore’s continued growth and prosperity”.
Both leaders also exchanged views on regional and international developments, commenting on the strong momentum in Asean-China relations, and looking forward to closer cooperation that would benefit both regions and people.
You can see a video of that meeting below:
Long, busy trip
Today is the last day of PM Lee’s official trip to China, which started on Mar. 27.
He started his trip in Guangzhou and delivered a speech at the Opening Plenary of the Bo’ao Forum for Asia (BFA).
On March 31, PM Lee met Chinese President Xi Jinping and the two leaders agreed to upgrade bilateral relations between Singapore and China to an “All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership”.
PM Lee will be returning to Singapore on Apr. 1, concluding his official visit to China.
Top image via screenshot from Prime Minister’s Office.