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China's Taiwan, Singapore expect to complete FTA before June: report

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SINGAPORE, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China's Taiwan and Singapore are said to be signed before June this year, local media Channel NewsAsia reported on Wednesday.

The FTA, known as ASTEP (Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership), was initially announced in December, 2010, when the delegates from both sides met for the first time in Singapore on December 9 and 10.

Both sides thought the economic cooperation agreement will offer significant mutual benefits. Currently, Singapore is the sixth biggest trading partner of China's Taiwan, the report by Channel NewsAsia said.

"We already have the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement ( ECFA) with China in place. So once we sign the FTA with Singapore, we can work together to explore the Chinese market," the report quoted Liu Da Nien, Director of the regional development center at Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research as saying.

"We can also get stronger ties with other countries in Southeast Asia and sign FTAs with them too after the FTA with Singapore has completed. Our strengths are more complementary rather than competitive with those of Southeast Asian nations," Liu added.

China's Taiwan may get greater access to Singapore's financial market, while the city-state may enjoy zero tariffs on its petrochemical and machinery exports.

After two years' negotiations, Taiwan's trade officials are said to expect the FTA inked before this June.

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