( dpa ) - Singapore said Saturday there were possibilities for greater economic cooperation with Taiwan, provided that the matters "are not politicized" and that Taiwan and China make progress on their own free-trade agreement.
Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou said after his landslide victory that he wanted to resume free trade talks with the city-state that were broken off under outgoing President Chen Shui-bian.
Ma has also indicated he wants to restart peace and trade talks with mainland China, and a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said much will depend on progress in that area.
"If Taiwan and the mainland are able to make progress on an FTA and cross-strait relations improve, there will be many possibilities for enhanced economic cooperation between Singapore and Taiwan, provided that economic matters are not politicized," the spokesman said in a statement.
Free trade agreements with "customs territories" such as Taiwan are permissible under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, he said.
While there were some preliminary discussions in 2001, the spokesman said they ceased "when the Chen Shui-bian administration tried to go beyond the WTO framework and politicized the issue."
"There have been no discussions since then," he said, adding that many developments under Chen's administration "have since caused serious strains in cross-strait relations."
China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and opposes any moves toward independence.