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China, Singapore conclude talks on free trade pact

China, Singapore conclude talks on free trade pact
AP
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First Published: Fri, Sep 05 2008. 11 36 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Sep 05 2008. 11 36 AM IST
Shanghai: China and Singapore have wrapped up negotiations on a free-trade accord, with the formal agreement due to be signed in October, the two governments say.
The final round of talks, led by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, finished on Thursday in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, the Chinese and Singaporean trade ministries said in statements seen Friday on their Web sites.
The free-trade agreement, China’s first with a neighbouring Asian country, covers trade, investment, travel, customs procedures and other related issues, the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry said.
“The FTA will enhance our strong economic relations by further reducing and removing barriers to trade. This will create opportunities for businesses from both countries to grow their links in each others’ markets,” it said.
Trade between the two countries has surged since the two governments began talks on an FTA two years ago.
China is Singapore’s third-biggest trading partner and Singapore is China’s eighth-largest trading partner. Two way-trade totaled $47.15 billion in 2007, up from $40.86 billion in 2006.
Singaporean businesses and individuals had invested $33 billion in mainland China by the end of 2007.
The two sides plan to sign the formal agreement during a visit by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon to Beijing to attend a summit of Asian and European leaders, the Singaporean statement said.
Singapore has numerous free trade agreements, including those with the US, Australia, Japan, Peru, South Korea, New Zealand and India.
Singapore is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is also negotiating an FTA with China.
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First Published: Fri, Sep 05 2008. 11 36 AM IST