India, Singapore reaffirm importance of RCEP

Singapore Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran (left) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Oct 7, 2018.
Singapore Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran (left) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Oct 7, 2018.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran called on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Oct 7, 2018.
Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran called on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Oct 7, 2018.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

India and Singapore reaffirmed the importance of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the visit of Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran to India.

Mr Iswaran met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (Oct 7) on the sidelines of the inaugural Destination Uttarakhand: Investors Summit at Dehradun in the state of Uttarakhand.

"Prime Minister Modi and Mr Iswaran reaffirmed the strengthening bilateral relations between Singapore and India, and the importance of regional cooperation through agreements such as the RCEP,'' Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement.

Mr Iswaran said in a Facebook post that he and Mr Modi had "discussed the potential to further strengthen regional cooperation through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which is one of the agenda items under Singapore's chairmanship of Asean".

The RCEP is a free trade deal being negotiated between the 10 Asean states and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

For India, there are reservations within certain sections of the government and industry over the trade deal because it would mean opening up to China.

Mr Modi and Mr Iswaran also discussed opportunities for greater collaboration in the digital economy under the Third Review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, and enhancing air connectivity to support business flows, said the MTI.

Mr Iswaran said in the Facebook post that he had told Mr Modi Singapore was keen to resume talks on the Air Services Agreement. An enhanced air services agreement was signed in 2013.

"I also conveyed to the Prime Minister that we were keen to re-start talks on the Air Services Agreement given the growth in air traffic between India and Singapore. We both agreed on the importance of increased air traffic as a catalyst to tourism, trade and investment flows between both countries."

Mr Iswaran, who delivered an address at the summit, reiterated Singapore's commitment to continue engaging states across India to explore meaningful opportunities for collaboration, it added.

He said in the Facebook post that Uttarakhand "offers interesting opportunities" for Singaporean companies in the tourism and hospitality sector.

He also met Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat, and discussed areas where Singapore and Uttarakhand could collaborate, he said in his post.