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Taiwan-S'pore economic pact to start on April 19

TAIPEI--Taiwan's economic cooperation pact with Singapore is set to come into effect April 19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The ministry said in a statement that both countries have completed the necessary legal and administrative procedures to implement the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP).

The signing of the agreement on Nov. 7 last year marked a breakthrough for Taiwan as its first trade pact with a major trade partner in Southeast Asia.

In 2013, two-way trade topped US$28.1 billion, and Singapore ranked as Taiwan's fifth largest trade partner, the ministry said.

It said the agreement is expected to spur bilateral economic cooperation and investment and bolster Taiwan's trade liberalization efforts while increasing its competitiveness.

The ministry also took the opportunity to emphasize Taiwan's longstanding hopes to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), two trade blocs under negotiation.

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