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Singapore and China sign deal to boost cooperation on Belt and Road Initiative

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/singapore-and-china-sign-deal-to-boost-cooperation-on-belt-and-road-initiative

Singapore and China sign deal to boost cooperation on Belt and Road Initiative

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Danson Cheong

China Correspondent

 

BEIJING - Singapore has inked a deal with China that will boost collaboration between their companies that operate in other countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and China's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), was signed in Beijing on Sunday (April 8). The signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong signed the MOU on behalf of MTI at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, while NDRC vice-chair Zhang Yong represented China.

The agreement was one of two bilateral cooperation deals inked on Sunday. The other MOU was on heritage and cultural exchange.

PM Lee arrived in Beijing for a five-day working meeting on Sunday.

Under the BRI deal, the MTI, NDRC and Enterprise Singapore will form a working group to identify sectors and markets of mutual interest and organise activities to promote cooperation between Singapore and Chinese companies operating in other BRI participating countries, said MTI in a press statement.

Both countries will also work with other organisations and institutions to support financing and project structuring needs of business ventures by Singapore and Chinese companies in third-party markets.

Such collaboration in other BRI countries was one area of cooperation under the BRI that both countries have identified, PM Lee had said earlier in an interview with the People's Daily.

Singapore and China have marked out the BRI mega-project as a focal point in their bilateral ties.

The BRI, mooted by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a plan to build infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and industrial hubs to connect some 65 countries, across Asia, Europe and Africa, reviving ancient Silk Road overland and sea trade routes.

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said in a media statement on Sunday (April 8) that the MOU will pave the way for closer partnerships between companies from both countries in third-party markets.

"Singapore's strength as a key infrastructure, financial and legal hub in the region will add value to Chinese companies expanding along the Belt and Road," he said.

On Sunday, PM Lee congratulated Mr Li on his re-election as premier during China's annual parliamentary meetings last month (March), adding that he was looking forward to "working with him on our bilateral account, on our bilateral cooperation also on the Asean account".

PM Lee arriving at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse

Singapore holds the rotating chairmanship of Asean this year, and is also the coordinator of Asean-China relations for the first half of the year.

"We hope to make further efforts toward deepening and enhancing our cooperation bilaterally as well as with the region," said PM Lee.

He made these remarks at the start of a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, held before the MOUs were signed.

PM Lee's opening remarks before meeting Chinese counterpart

After the MOUs were signed, PM Lee was hosted to a working dinner by Mr Li.

PM Lee last visited China in September. His latest visit to China comes after the country's historic 19th Party Congress last October, and the just-concluded legislative meetings.

Mr Lee leaves Beijing on Monday (April 9) for Boao on southern Hainan island, where he will attend the Boao Forum for Asia for the first time and meet Mr Xi

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