Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Singapore and China share the same commitment to advancing free and open global trade under a rules-based multilateral trading system.
2. In this regard, Singapore and China have ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, which will enter into force on 1 January 2022. Singapore also welcomes China’s application to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in accordance with the CPTPP’s rules and procedures.
3. Beyond plurilateral frameworks of cooperation, there are also many opportunities for Singapore and China to enhance our bilateral economic relations. At the JCBC, we discussed areas where we can strengthen our bilateral cooperation and bring benefits for our people and businesses.
4. The first is strengthening supply chain resilience. Let me give an example. Last year, we worked with relevant authorities in China to add seven new fishery establishments to the approved list for export of aquatic products to China. At today’s meeting, I have suggested to my Chinese counterparts that we can consider establishing a forward inspection hub in Singapore to shorten the time needed to inspect and clear food products at Chinese ports. This would facilitate better access to the Chinese market for Singapore companies and regional food businesses.
5. Besides enhancing supply chain resilience, I also encouraged both sides to keep up the good progress of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Subsequent Negotiations. The ongoing negotiations seek to enhance liberalisation rules and market access in investments and services for our companies. Notably, China and Singapore have agreed to include a new Telecommunications Services chapter that would provide a more enabling regulatory environment for Singapore companies entering and operating in the Chinese telecommunications market. Thus far, both sides have concluded three rounds of negotiations, and have made good progress in concluding the investment, services and telecommunications chapters.
6. We also discussed how Singapore companies have contributed to China’s evolving developmental priorities through our bilateral projects and eight provincial business councils. In line with China’s priorities under the New Development Paradigm, Singapore companies can look forward to more opportunities in innovation and sustainability. For example, the Singapore-Yangtze River Delta Joint Innovation Call would support Singapore companies seeking R&D and commercialisation opportunities in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
7. We are also deepening cooperation with the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), which has been a pathfinder for our bilateral cooperation over the last 27 years.
a. This year, we launched new initiatives to enable cross-border services and investments. For example, in October, we launched the SIP International Business Cooperation Centre (Singapore). The Centre has since welcomed Chinese companies such as Copper-Joint, an original equipment manufacturer supplying wind power companies’ components, and AlphaESS, an energy storage solution provider. I hope to see more Chinese companies explore commercial partnerships with Singapore firms, jointly develop innovative products, and expand their network in the region.
b. We will also continue to facilitate the entry of Singapore’s biomedical companies into China through the SIP. The A*STAR Partners’ Centre @ SIP, launched last November, has supported 15 Singapore startups seeking to expand into China. This includes Lucence, an oncology diagnostics company, and Hexalotus, which uses artificial intelligence to create 3D models of patients’ organs and surgical guides.
8. As Singapore and China press on with post-pandemic economic recovery, we will continue to work closely to support our businesses, promote innovation, and deliver high-quality growth for our economies.