Singapore and China have inked an agreement to deepen legal cooperation, including the setting up of a New Vice Minister level platform between both sides which will meet once every two years.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who is in Guangzhou for a global legal forum, signed the deal with his Chinese counterpart, Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua, in the southern Chinese city yesterday.

The New Singapore-China Legal Cooperation Council comes amid closer legal and judicial cooperation between the two countries, a new area of collaboration singled out by top leaders from both sides.

The deal covers several areas, including on strengthening the rule of law, international commercial dispute resolution and the administration of the legal profession

At the opening of the forum yesterday, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore and China are stepping up exchanges and cooperation, including on the Belt & Road Initiative.

“With the development of the Greater Bay Area and the BRI, more Chinese companies are becoming international. They are investing in projects overseas. Their legal and dispute resolution needs will grow. They present new opportunities for us to work together,” he said.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam also said how the role of law develops in China would have big implications on whether it can ensure broad-based prosperity as it moves on from middle-income status.

Mr Shanmugam arrived in Beijing last Thursday for a nine-day official visit. Besides the Chinese capital and Guangzhou, he was in Shenzhen on Sunday, where he addressed another legal seminar.

In Beijing, he met State Councillor and Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi and Vice-Minister of Emergency Management Huang Ming. Both sides reaffirmed relations between their law enforcement and civil defence agencies.

Mr Shanmugam will end his visit in Shanghai, where he is due to meet public security officials.