11/09/2013, 00.00
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A free trade agreement "opens" the doors of Singapore to Taiwan

The economic relationship between the two nations is worth about $ 30 billion a year and is expected to grow. The agreement is also a sign of a thaw in relations between Taipei and Beijing, which no longer blocks Taiwanese attempts to assert itself on the world stage.

Taipei ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government of Taiwan has signed a free trade agreement with Singapore , paving the way for liberalization of an economic relationship that is worth about $ 30 billion a year. The agreement also marks a turning point from the diplomatic point of view , since it is the first time that the island - considered a " renegade province " by mainland China that needs to be reabsorbed by the motherland - has signed an agreement with an Asian government. According to some analysts it is a sign of the "continuous thaw" in relations between Taipei and Beijing.

The economic partnership agreement was signed in Singapore a few months after the agreement signed between Taiwan and New Zealand . Foreign Minister David Lin said: "The signing strengthens Taiwanese liberalization and internationalization, and helps us on the road to entering international trade bodies [from which is still excluded due to China's obstruction ed] . "

According to the text, Singapore will immediately remove all customs duties on products originating in Taiwan, for its part , the island is committed to removing the tax on 83% of the Singaporeans products. The rest will be liberalized over a period of time ranging from 5 to 15 years. A group of 40 agricultural products - rice and pineapple - is excluded from the agreement.

From the diplomatic point of view , Singapore recognizes China as the " legitimate government " and has no official relations with the Republic of China, Taiwan's official name . Since 2010, however, a series of conciliatory gestures have brought the two sides of the Taiwan Strait closer together - in conflict since the end of civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists and the birth of the People's Republic of China in 1949 - to the point that Beijing and Taipei have signed a epochal socio- cultural- economic trade agreement. At the moment 40% of Taiwan 's total trade is destined for China , but the figure is still growing.



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