India, Singapore to upgrade CECA

India, Singapore to upgrade CECA

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana in Singapore June 1, 2018. (REUTERS/Edgar Su)

India and Singapore have agreed to upgrade their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement soon

to boost bilateral trade as the two sides today signed eight agreements in the fields of the training of public service officials, cybersecurity, narcotics control and defence cooperation.

The two sides concluded the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

The review includes expanded tariff concessions for an additional 30 products and improved rules to provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India to qualify for preferential tariffs under the agreement, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said after the completion of the review.

"I am especially happy about the completion of the second review of our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. But both of us agree that second review is not our destination, it is just a halt. Our executives will soon start discussions to upgrade and improve this agreement," Modi said after his talks with Lee.

Modi is here on a three-day visit.

"The upgraded agreement will enable more Singapore companies to qualify for lower tariffs," Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said.

"This improves local exporters' access to the Indian market. I encourage our companies to make full use of the upgraded agreement and explore more opportunities for collaboration in India."

Another key benefit from the upgraded CECA includes a mutual recognition agreement on nursing to facilitate a better understanding in regulating training and practice of nursing.

The India-Singapore CECA entered into force on August 1, 2005, and had its first review concluded on October 1, 2007.

During Modi's visit, the two sides signed eight agreements, including a mutual recognition pact on nursing.

Implementation agreement signed between the Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy concerning mutual coordination, logistics and services support for naval ships, submarines and naval aircraft (including Ship borne Aviation Assets) visit.

Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) and the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SINGCERT) in the area of cybersecurity.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore signed a MoU on cooperation to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.

Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of Personnel Management and public administration.

Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Department of Economic Affairs, India's ministry of finance, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore on the constitution of a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fintech between India and Singapore.

The NITI Aayog and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) also signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of planning.

In 2017, total bilateral trade between both countries amounted to 25.2 billion Singapore dollar, an increase from the 16.6 billion Singapore dollar when the CECA was signed in 2005.

Top imports from India in 2017 include petroleum oils, jewellery and precious metals while top exports to India include machinery, petroleum oils, styrene and gold.

The two sides will also start reviewing the civil aviation agreement soon to further boost links, given the potential of strong growth in air services.

"Within our own country, we have a new civil aviation policy and the domestic civil aviation sector is going to come up in a big way," Preeti Saran, Secretary (EAST) at Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters during a briefing on Modi’s three-day visit to Singapore.

"We are interested in holding an early review on the civil aviation agreement," she said, adding that dates would be worked out on a return to New Delhi.

The fact that this civil aviation sector is likely to grow much more, there is a need to do that, she stressed.

There are nearly 500 weekly flights between Singapore and 16 different destinations in India.

There were also talks of collaboration between India and Singapore in startups sector, technology and innovation.

Both Prime Ministers also discussed the need for early conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) stressing that it be fair, comprehensive and balanced.

"We are looking at newer areas of collaborations we are moving away from the traditional to the more innovative. To grow, to develop you must innovate," Saran said.

She pointed out that new technology and startup companies must come up with cheaper and affordable technology. That is something of interest to India and Singapore companies will benefit, given the scale of operation that they will have in a country like India.

"There are opportunities following the reforms. India is a big market for technology and we look towards Singapore as an important partner," she said. 

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