India, Singapore to speed up CECA review to boost bilateral trade

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Oct 04, 2016

During a bilateral meeting between Prime Minster Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, India and Singapore have decided to “expedite” the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to boost two-way trade.

“The trade and investment ties form the bedrock of our bilateral relationship. We enjoy a strong network of business-to-business partnerships.

“In this context, Prime Minister Lee and I have agreed to expedite the second review of our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement,” Modi said after the meeting.

The India-Singapore CECA had been effective since 2005.

CECA logjam
However, the second review of the pact has been stuck for over six years now over the issue of India demanding more access in that market for its professionals and banks.

However, Singapore has maintained that Indian banks lack international standards and they have to follow certain quality benchmarks to be present in Singapore.

Bilateral trade between India and Singapore has been declining for the last five years with Indian exports to that country falling at a faster rate. Total trade between the two declined 11.25 per cent to $15.02 billion in 2015-16 from $17 billion in 2014-15, according to official statistics.

Shared priorities
On the issue of defence and security, which forms a crucial part of the strategic partnership between the two countries, Modi said it is a shared priority of both countries to maintain open sea lanes of communication and respect for international legal order of seas.

“The rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism, and the rise of radicalisation are grave challenges to our security. They threaten the very fabric of our societies. It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace.

“Today, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation to counter these threats, including in the domain of cyber security,” he said.

Lee, who is on a five-day visit to India, also met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier in the day.

Both sides also signed three memorandums of understanding on intellectual property, skills development and technical and vocational education and training.

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