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China may delay FTA talks with Singapore

BEIJING - Talks on a free-trade area (FTA) between China and Singapore could suffer "setbacks" because Beijing is angry over the visit by Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Taiwan, media reports said on Tuesday.

An official from China's Ministry of Commerce said Sino-Singaporean trade ties had been hampered by Lee's recent visit to Taipei, which was opposed by China.

"His visit has dampened the mood to negotiate the free-trade area between the two countries," the People's Daily website said, quoting an unnamed official.

In addition, China last month cancelled a visit by the governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, to Singapore, apparently to protest against Lee's trip to Taiwan.

Reports have speculated that the FTA talks will be delayed or canceled because of Lee's visit, which took place from July 10-13.

"Delaying or canceling the talks will not cause problems because neither a feasibility study nor negotiations have started," the official said.

China is Singapore's second-largest trading partner, with two-way trade totaling nearly US$40 billion last year.

(Asia Pulse/PTI)

Aug 4, 2004


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