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July 13, 2007

Bilateral FTA expected in 2008
Singapore is expected to finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) with China next year, a top Singaporean government official said.

"We think one to two years would be a reasonable timeframe to look at," Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

Deputy PM Wong was speaking after co-chairing a meeting with his visiting Chinese counterpart Wu Yi, whose four-day official visit to the city-state concluded on Thursday.

Singapore has already signed free trade pacts with its major trading partners, including the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

According to official statistics, China was Singapore's fourth-largest trading partner in 2005 after Malaysia, Europe and the United States. Total trade between the two countries was valued at S$67 billion (US$44 billion USD).

A Singapore-China FTA is expected to spur an ongoing process by Southeast Asian nations to create a regional free trade area with China. Southeast Asia is a key market for Chinese manufacturers, as well as a source for energy, rubber, minerals and other natural resources. PNA/VNA

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