Singapore, Nov 7 (IANS) 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, the second day of Xi’s state visit to the island-nation.
Xi’s visit marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore, Channel News Asia reported.
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. The CSFTA will also be enhanced with new generation elements such as E-commerce and environment,” MTI said.
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 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in education, urban planning and management and on the Sino-Singapore International Joint Research Institute in the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City.
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.