27 April 2023

On 1 April 2023, the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) issued a press release on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding concluded between Singapore and China to announce the substantive conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (“CSFTA”) Work Programme for Subsequent Negotiations (“WPSN”). The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, and the signing was witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and China’s Premier Li Qiang.

The CSFTA was signed in 2008 and was China’s first comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement that China concluded with an Asian country. Singapore and China signed the CSFTA Upgrade Protocol in 2018 to ensure the continued relevancy of the CSFTA to business needs and to keep pace with global and regional economic architecture.

The WPSN seeks to enhance the CSFTA by:

  • providing more liberal and transparent rules that level the playing field for investors and service suppliers from one country to another;
  • including a new standalone Telecommunications Services Chapter that provides enhanced transparency in domestic regulatory processes, promotes competition, and facilitates industry participation in collaborative activities for innovation and development; and
  • including investment and services liberalisation elements and a more liberal structure for market access to provide for improved market access commitments by both countries.

These improvements create a conducive environment that enables businesses to better capture opportunities in each other’s economies. Bilateral trade and investments between Singapore and China have grown at a rate of 7% and 7.7% per year on average respectively since 2019. Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor since 2013, while China has been Singapore’s top investment destination since 2007, representing 15.3% of Singapore’s cumulative direct investment abroad as of 2021.

Reference materials

The press release is available on the MTI website www.mti.gov.sg.