During Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Singapore, the Premier and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the signing of significant documents on upgrading the China-Singapore free trade agreement (FTA), which got much attention from overseas media.
“Premier Li and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong swiftly headed indoors for a meeting before the signing of the upgraded FTA alongside 10 memorandums of understanding,” Singapore’s The Straits Times commented on the Premier’s tight schedule during his visit.
The upgraded FTA focuses on six areas, such as customs procedure and trade facilitation, while introducing new areas in e-commerce, competition and the environment. Singapore’s Business Times believed this will substantially enhance the level of bilateral trade facilitation and bring benefits to more enterprises.
Upon his arrival in Singapore, Premier Li sent a clear signal on openness and cooperation, according to analysts. “China has opened its door to the world; we will never close it but open it even wider. We welcome Singapore’s efforts to seize opportunities created by China’s new round of opening-up, working with us in elevating bilateral cooperation,” the Premier said in a signed article published in Lianhe Zaobao and The Straits Times on Nov 12.
Lee Hsien Loong highly praised the FTA upgrading, and said he believes it will bring remarkable and tangible benefits to enterprises and people from both countries, according to Lianhe Zaobao.
Lianhe Zaobao reported that Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the upgrading represents a common commitment made by the two countries to strengthen economic cooperation and trade liberalization.
More overseas media noticed the China-Singapore FTA upgrading. According to Reuters, Premier Li called for an “open world economy,” while Lee Hsien Loong said China and ASEAN share common interests in safeguarding open and rule-based multilateralism.
Russia’s Sputnik said in a report the China-Singapore FTA upgrading was one of the important results of Premier Li’s visit to the country.
The Lianhe Zaobao website also reported that Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore 40 years ago, opening a new chapter on China-Singapore friendly relations and cooperation, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, which made Premier Li’s visit special and meaningful.
The Associated Press and Philippines’ World News said of Premier Li’s visit to Singapore, a country that participated actively in China’s reform and opening-up, has a special meaning in developing bilateral ties and unleashing the dividend of reform and opening-up.
Singaporean scholars, as quoted by local media, hold that although Singapore is small in economic size, as an important international financial center in the Asia-Pacific region, it can play a large role in collaborating with China to conduct financing and investment in other countries along the Belt and Road, and tap the third-party market and develop projects.
Since 2013, China has been Singapore’s largest trade partner, and Singapore has been China’s second-largest investment destination.
Facing current trade protectionism, China-Singapore practical cooperation will be a leapfrog development, injecting great momentum to the development of bilateral relations, regional trade cooperation and global free trade, analysts said.