Taking China-Singapore trade relations to a higher level

Mr. Wang Wentao, Secretary of the CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Commerce, PRC

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China and Singapore are friendly neighbours that enjoy a close and warm relationship, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. In his congratulatory message to President Halimah Yacob on October 3, President Xi Jinping noted that over the past 30 years, cooperation between our two countries has gone beyond the bilateral scope, and plays an exemplary role on both the regional and international levels; China stands ready to work with Singapore on developing the relationship between the two countries further.

Over the past 30 years, economic and trade relations between two countries have developed both in breadth and depth; we embarked on many projects which yield remarkable results. Keeping up with the times, our all-round cooperative partnership has been scaling new heights continually.

Over the past 30 years, bilateral trade and investment has continued to grow. According to Chinese data, bilateral trade between China and Singapore has reached nearly US$ 90 billion in scale, with an average annual growth of 12.7%; cumulative two-way investment has exceeded US$160 billion, making up almost two-third of total cumulative investment between China and ASEAN. China has become Singapore’s biggest trade partner, and Singapore is also China’s largest source of foreign investment. Both countries signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008, which was upgraded in 2018, further opening markets to each other.

Over the past 30 years, major cooperative projects have played a demonstrative leadership role. From the launch of the Suzhou Industrial Park in 1994, breaking ground on the Tianjin Eco-City in 2008, and then the launch of the Singapore-China (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative in 2015, a series of government-to-government flagship projects have been established and come to fruition. The construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, the Guangzhou Knowledge City and other state-level bilateral cooperation projects are also underway and bringing benefits to many. These major projects have effectively boosted all-round cooperation across different levels, as well as injected momentum into the high-quality cooperation between China and Singapore in building the Belt and Road.

Over the past 30 years, multilateral regional cooperation has continued to deepen. At the G20, World Trade Organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, East Asia cooperation and other multilateral and regional stages, China and Singapore have remained in close contact and coordination, and are firm in their support of economic globalisation and a multilateral trading system. Both countries are also united in their efforts to oppose unilateralism and protectionism, as well as actively promoting regional economic integration and an open world economy. We have also leveraged our comparative advantage to explore cooperation in third-party markets, so that our experiences in development can benefit more developing countries and their people.

This year, faced with the sudden Covid-19 pandemic, the governments of China and Singapore, together with their people, have extended assistance and support to each other. Both countries have also began in-depth cooperation in the efforts of medical and epidemic prevention supplies, taking the lead in setting up the first “fast lane” for essential travel between the two countries, and taking active steps to maintain the stability of supply chains. Cooperation in fighting the pandemic has become a new highlight in trade relations between China and Singapore, once again showing the forward-looking, strategic and demonstrative nature of the relationship between the two countries. At present, bilateral trade and investment continues to recover, bearing witness to the strength, resilience and vibrancy of the trade relations.

The world is undergoing profound changes that have not been seen in a century. China and Singapore, as important economies in the world, need to work closely together to advance global stability and prosperity. China is committed to a higher level of opening-up of, and speeding up the establishment of a dual-circulation economic development model, with a main internal circulation within its domestic market, and an external circulation comprising China’s trade links with the rest of the world. This will provide access to a bigger market and offer more development opportunities to countries all over the world including Singapore. The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China is ready to work with Singapore to execute on the consensus reached by the leadership of both countries to take China-Singapore trade relations to a higher level.

First, stronger cooperation in fighting the pandemic. China wants to strengthen cooperation with Singapore in the supply of resources for epidemic control, research and development of vaccines and therapeutics, and other areas, to ensure vaccines become an accessible global public good that will benefit the world. China will take action to build a community of common health for mankind.

Second, deepen pragmatic cooperation. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, deepen the links between the development strategies of both countries, promote the healthy development of bilateral trade and investment, and safeguard the stable and long-term development of the major cooperation projects.

Third, strengthen multilateral regional coordination. China and Singapore will jointly uphold multilateralism and free trade and promote the early signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Expedite the construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor; strengthen coordination in Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and other regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms.

Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “one becomes established at the age of 30”. After weathering 30 years of changes, as we stand together at a new juncture in history, we believe that with the combined efforts of China and Singapore, we can build on what we have achieved together to create a better and brighter tomorrow!