China, Singapore upgrade FTA to include Belt and Road initiative for 1st time

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/12 22:53:39

BRI included in free trade agreement for first time

China and Singapore on Monday upgraded their bilateral free trade agreement to include the Belt and Road initiative for the first time.

China's Vice Commerce Minister Fu Ziying and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing jointly signed an upgraded agreement on Monday in Singapore, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced late Monday.

The upgraded agreement includes the Belt and Road initiative cooperation for the first time, stressing the vital importance of the initiative in deepening bilateral cooperation, realizing mutual targets and promoting regional development, according to the ministry.

The two sides agreed to promote the Belt and Road initiative together, using multilateral cooperative mechanisms to enhance mutual prosperity, said the ministry.

It also said that the upgrades will also help deepen the cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members.

Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that the participation of Singapore demonstrates the global community's acknowledgement of the initiative.

It will also help complete cooperation rules under the initiative, Chen said, noting that Japan had also joined the initiative as a third party.

The inclusion of the initiative and upgrades on clauses will safeguard our cooperation with Singapore and other ASEAN members in the format of the Belt and Road initiative, promoting our cooperation to a new high, Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday.

The new agreement upgraded clauses in six areas including rules of origin, customs procedures, trade relief, service trade, investment and economic cooperation, the Commerce Ministry said.  

It also added three new areas named e-commerce, competition policy and environment.

In the future, Chinese delivery companies will be able to enter the Singaporean market and enjoy impartial treatment.

Chinese computer reservation systems can also directly provide service to Singaporean customers in China.

At the same time, China also promised to expand the scale of openness in architecture and transportation, according to the ministry.

Projects of Singaporean architecture companies cooperating with free trade in Shanghai, Suzhou and Tianjin can be excluded from the limitation on foreign investors' proportion. 

As to the movement of natural persons, China and Singapore also signed a memorandum of understanding to simplify the application procedure of employment permit, said the ministry. 

Newspaper headline: Sino-Singapore FTA upgraded

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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