Thu, Feb 28, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Singapore not a new market: COA

By Chien Hui-ju and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung answers lawmakers’ questions after reporting to the Economics Committee of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday rejected the assertion that a trade deal signed between Kaohsiung and two Singaporean companies means that Singapore represents a new trade market for Kaohsiung.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) asked COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei whether a three-year, NT$35 million (US$1.14 million) deal Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) signed with the two Singaporean supermarket chains was evidence of the city looking outside of China for economic development opportunities.

The council’s International Affairs Office said that the nation last year sold NT$25 million of agricultural products to Singapore, demonstrating that the two nations were already strong economic partners before Han was elected in November last year.

The office said that it has been seeking international marketing opportunities for the nation’s agricultural producers and last year held a Taiwanese fruit and vegetables festival in Singapore.

The city-state is already the fourth-largest importer of the nation’s agricultural products in Southeast Asia and has been targeted for greater trade under the government’s New Southbound Policy, the office said.

Han last week traveled to Singapore and Malaysia, where he signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on the trade issues.

Under one of the MOUs signed on Sunday, Malaysia agreed to purchase NT$100 million in agricultural products from Taiwan.

Malaysian media reported that the deal was struck under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but Han has denied that the agreement would somehow involve the Chinese market.

Members of the Malaysian Chinese Association — an opposition political party that represents the interests of ethnic Chinese Malaysians — were present at the MOU signing ceremony.

Malaysia’s Sin Chew Daily and Kwong Wah Yit Poh have expressed support for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and called the MOUs a “win for China and Malaysia.”

The official who signed the agreement on behalf of Malaysia is a former chairperson of Malaysia’s office in charge of executing policies related to the initiative.

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