India, Singapore to upgrade trade cooperation agreement

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Singapore, June 1 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that India and Singapore will soon upgrade their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) following a bilateral summit with his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong here.

“We are happy with the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement,” Modi said in a joint address to the media with Lee following the summit.

“But both our countries agree that this is not our target, but just another milestone,” he said.

“Officials from both our countries will soon discuss how to upgrade this agreement.”

India and Singapore signed the CECA in 2005. Singapore is the first country with which India signed such a treaty.

On his part, Lee said that bilateral trade between India and Singapore has doubled to $25 billion since the CECA came into effect.

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He also said that as the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Singapore will work with India in the regional security architecture.

Modi said that while Singapore is a significant source of foreign direct investment for India, the southeast Asia city state is also a top destination of Indian investments.

“I am happy that Indian companies use Singapore as a springboard to expand to other Asean countries,” he said.

“Investments by Singapore companies in India are rising. There are unparalleled opportunities for Singapore companies in significant sectors in India’s development.”

Stating that air traffic between India and Singapore is increasing rapidly, the Indian Prime Minister said that the two countries will soon sign an air services agreement.

He also said that both countries are putting a lot of emphasis on defence and security in terms of tactical cooperation.

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Congratulating the navies of the two countries for the 25th year of the Singapore India Bilateral Maritime Exercise (Simbex), he said trilateral exercises will also be started soon.

“In the times to come, our cooperation in terms of cyber security, and fighting extremism and terrorism will attain more importance,” Modi said.

“We agree these are the biggest threats to our two countries.”

Modi said that he and Prime Minister Lee also discussed regional and global issues.

“We reviewed our respective views on maritime security and reiterated our commitment to a rules-based order,” he said.

“We have agreed that an open, stable and suitable international trade regime should be maintained.”

The Indian Prime Minister also stressed on the unity and centrality of Asean and regional stability through the Asean institutions.

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He also said that he reiterated Indian’s commitment to a quick conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 Asean member states and the six states with which this regional bloc has existing free trade agreements – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Modi arrived here on Wednesday on the third and final leg of his five-nation tour of southeast Asia.

This is his second official visit to Singapore as Prime Minister. He had been to Singapore in March 2015 to attend the state funeral of the city state’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then again in November the same year for his first official visit.

–IANS

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