Singapore, China discuss improving market access, digital trade at council meeting

SINGAPORE – Singapore and China have discussed improving market access to investments and services for companies, as well as facilitating digital trade between the two countries.

The talks took place on Wednesday (Dec 29) at the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), which allows both countries to identify new areas of collaboration to strengthen longstanding relations, noted Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday.

Mr Heng and Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng co-chaired the JCBC.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong told the event, now in its 17th year, that there are many opportunities for Singapore and China to enhance bilateral cooperation.

These include strengthening the supply chain for essential items such as food, with Mr Gan suggesting that a forward inspection hub be set up in Singapore to shorten the time needed to inspect and clear food products at Chinese ports.

Negotiations under the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement that seek to improve market access for Singapore companies operating in the Chinese telecoms market have also made “significant progress”, he added.

Mr Gan also called for deeper cooperation with the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), which is jointly governed by Singapore and China.

“We will… continue to facilitate the entry of Singapore’s biomedical companies into China through the SIP,” he said, adding that 15 Singapore start-ups have already received support, including Lucence, an oncology diagnostics company, and Hexalotus, which uses artificial intelligence to create 3D models of patients’ organs and surgical guides.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng welcomed China’s application to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, which establishes new approaches in digital trade issues, among other initiatives.

He noted at the JCBC that both countries “can do much more together” to facilitate digital trade, such as digitalising documents like invoices and bills of lading to reduce costs and enable faster transactions.

More can also be done to ease cross-border data flows and raise clarity of data regulations so that “companies can harness data to create better products and benefit from reduced compliance costs”.

Dr Tan added that establishing trusted authentication and common standards using technology such as blockchain will allow cross-border transactions to be more secure and seamless.


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