India and Singapore have made substantial progress to enter the “next phase of economic partnership” as they look to deepen collaboration in areas like financing for infrastructure, smart cities development and railways. India and Singapore have enjoyed steadfast bilateral relations for the past five decades which were further enhanced under the 2005-Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a free-trade pact promoting economic and trade activities.
On the status of negotiations for the CECA, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran told PTI, “Both sides have been working hard. The objective is really to create a high quality agreement that will be a gateway or the next phase of economic partnership between the two countries. I think there has been a substantial progress.”
Singapore is India’s second largest investor, especially in the power and port sectors. The CECA is further being reviewed and would encourage more international investments through Singapore into development projects taking place in India. Asked about the timeline expected for completion of the CECA review, Iswaran said “the two Prime Ministers will probably talk about it tomorrow”.
Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong is paying a five-day visit to India since October 3 with an aim to deepen bilateral ties in a range of areas including trade and investment. During the visit, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explore ways to further bolster ties between the two countries.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said India could draw from Singapore’s experience in areas like development of railway stations, smart cities, financing for infrastructure and rainwater harvesting. Besides, he said, India was looking to go beyond borders for enhancing connectivity with countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar in the future as it looks to expand the freight corridor network.
Prabhu said India could leverage its demographic dividend by providing offshore services in sectors like medicine and banking to other countries. Iswaran and Prabhu were addressing a CII event in New Delhi.