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Singapore and China will put in place a 30-day mutual visa exemption agreement early next year, the Singapore foreign ministry said on Thursday, as the two countries agreed to further upgrade a trade pact between them.

“Both countries will work out the implementation details of the mutual 30-day visa exemption arrangement and implement it in early 2024,” the Singapore foreign ministry aid in a statement.

Thailand and Malaysia also have exempted visas for Chinese tourists.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin confirmed the agreement on mutual visa exemptions for citizens of the two countries but made no mention of the length of stay.

China says visa-free travel policy has boosted tourism

“At present the competent authorities of the two countries are in close communication on specific matters,” he told a news briefing. “Both China and Singapore look forward to the early implementation and coming into force of relevant arrangements.”

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is also Singapore’s finance minister, is on a visit to Tianjin city and Beijing. Wong is co-chairing the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Tianjin on Thursday.

He said personnel exchanges between the two sides were increasing, with flights between both countries recovering to close to pre-pandemic levels, Singapore’s main Chinese language paper Lianhe Zaobao reported on Thursday.

“The 30-day mutual visa exemption arrangement between our two countries will also support such progress, which can promote more personnel exchanges and strengthen the cornerstone of bilateral relations,” the paper quoted him as saying.

This year, China resumed 15-day visa-free entry for citizens of Singapore, more than three years after such visas were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. China has been eager for the agreement to become reciprocal, Reuters reported in May.

China offers visa-free entry for citizens of France, Germany, Italy

The upgraded protocol for the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) gives Singapore greater market access to China’s services sectors, the Singapore trade ministry said. China will not have foreign equity limits for Singapore investors in 22 sectors such as construction, retailing and wholesale, and architectural and urban planning services, it added.

Singapore’s central bank and the People’s Bank of China are also starting a pilot programme to allow travellers from both countries to use China’s e-CNY digital currency for tourism spending in Singapore and China, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced on Thursday.

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