Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomes Chinese Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping (Photo: Straitstimes)

Singapore (VNA) – Chinese Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong agreed to promote bilateral ties in various socio-economic areas during their meeting in Singapore on November 7.

The leaders attended the signing ceremony for a number of agreements related to their third government-to-government project in China’s Chongqing province. The two sides also pledged to strengthen cooperation in education, urban management and customs.

Singapore and China also concurred to launch negotiations for an upgrade to their free trade agreement (FTA), as part of efforts to prepare for their next economic partnership period.

Earlier, speaking at a banquet for Xi on November 6, Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam said the upgrade will offer a foundation for both sides to join regional economic frameworks such as the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) and the ASEAN-China FTA.

Singapore has been one of China’s largest investors recently, with total investment of 72 billion USD. Last year, China surpassed Malaysia to become Singapore’s top trade partner.

Singapore is the second largest exchange market for the Chinese yuan after Hong Kong.

China is Singapore’s second biggest tourism market, while about a million Singaporeans visited China last year.

Also on November 7, Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Yusof Ishak, highlighting the importance of the Singapore-China partnership over the past 25 years.-VNA