Monday 16 November 2015

Singapore and Turkey sign comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, will enter into force on 1 October 2017

Deal signed on sidelines of G-20 summit will lower barriers to trade and investment, and boost bilateral ties
By Walter Sim, In Antalya, Turkey, The Sunday Times, 15 Nov 2015

Singapore and Turkey yesterday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that will reduce barriers to trade and investment between the two sides as well as strengthen bilateral ties and economic cooperation.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Turkish Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci inked the deal on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit in Antalya, which begins today.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan witnessed the signing.

Mr Lee also met Mr Erdogan, and thanked him for the invitation to the summit and G-20 meetings.

"They affirmed the growing relations between the two countries," Mr Lee's press secretary said.

"Both President Erdogan and PM Lee welcomed the signing of the FTA and expressed hope for its speedy ratification. The FTA will strengthen the respective positions of Singapore and Turkey as gateways to larger markets such as Europe and Asean," she added.

The agreement, which is expected to be ratified by 2017, will enhance access for Singapore and Turkish companies to each other's services sectors and procurement markets, and promote greater connectivity between businesses and people, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said.

Turkey will remove tariffs for Singapore exports on over 80 per cent of products immediately after the FTA enters into force. This will rise to more than 95 per cent over 10 years, MTI added in a statement.

Singapore exporters in sectors like electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food will also benefit from the removal of Turkey's tariffs under Rules of Origin that consider Singapore's unique regional supply chain and local production processes.

About 10 major Singapore companies are in Turkey, including port operator PSA, Temasek Holdings, ST Electronics, urban developer Surbana Jurong and serviced apartment operator The Ascott.

Close to 70 Turkish companies are in Singapore, including Beko, a consumer goods brand under conglomerate Koc Holding; GenPower, Turkey's largest diesel and gasoline generator manufacturer; Vesbo, the specialised water thermoplastic pipe arm of oil and gas equipment supplier Kar Group; and reinsurance company Milli Reasurans.

These numbers are set to grow.

Latest figures show that Singapore invested $345 million in Turkey in 2013, while Turkey invested $19 million in Singapore in 2013. Bilateral trade in goods last yearwas $1.21 billion, while bilateral trade in services in 2013 was $394 million.

MTI said it will organise activities to help Singapore companies understand the potential benefits of the FTA. It is Turkey's first comprehensive agreement in a single undertaking, and covers commitments in government procurement, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, competition and transparency.

Singapore companies will also be able to bid for procurement contracts from Turkish government entities, including its 30 metropolitan municipalities. Turkish companies can likewise access Singapore's government procurement market.

Turkey is Singapore's 52nd largest trading partner, and Singapore Business Federation chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit told The Sunday Times that trade and investment figures can be expected to grow with the FTA.

Turkey, he added, is an emerging country with growing domestic demand as well as links to areas like Central Asia, Iran and North Africa.

The ruling Justice and Development Party was also returned to power with a majority in the Nov 1 election, and Mr Ho said: "With the current government firmly in power, we hope there will be stability that will lead to better conditions for businesses to invest."

Singapore also appointed its first resident ambassador to Ankara this year, and trade agency IE Singapore has an office in Istanbul.

"The infrastructure is in place and will provide good support for businesses," Mr Ho added.

PM Lee and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed a declaration on a strategic partnership when Mr Lee visited Turkey in October last year, and MTI said the signing of the FTA built upon this partnership.

Arrived in Antalya yesterday for the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Was happy to witness the signing of the Turkey-Singapore Free...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, November 14, 2015

Happy to represent Singapore to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci. The FTA...
Posted by Heng Swee Keat on Sunday, November 15, 2015

* Turkey, Singapore FTA to take effect in October 2017
By Reme Ahmad, South-east Asia Editor, The Straits Times, 22 Aug 2017

A bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that Singapore and Turkey have ratified will go into force on Oct 1, marking a new milestone in the relations of the "gateway" nations to their respective regions.

The FTA was announced yesterday at a joint press conference at the Istana by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

The Turkey-Singapore FTA (TRSFTA) signed in November 2015 is a comprehensive agreement that covers a wide range of areas, including good and services, e-commerce, competition and transparency.

"I look forward to the FTA entering into force soon," Mr Lee said. "This TRSFTA is another significant milestone in our bilateral relationship. It will send a strong signal to our business communities and strengthen our economic ties."

Mr Yildirim told reporters that bilateral trade has been on the rise and that he is confident the FTA will boost trading volumes.

It was a hectic day for Mr Yildirim, who arrived here on Sunday. He paid a courtesy call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam before meeting Mr Lee, who hosted him to dinner. In the afternoon, Mr Yildirim attended the 5th Turkey-Singapore Business Forum and delivered a keynote speech at the 41st Singapore Lecture.

He is scheduled to visit Jurong Island and PSA's port facilities today before leaving for Vietnam.

The two countries, which share longstanding warm bilateral ties, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019. Mr Yildirim is the second Turkish prime minister to visit Singapore, following then prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's official visit in 2014.

Singapore-Turkey relations have grown steadily, especially after the two countries signed a Strategic Partnership in 2014. Annual bilateral trade has crossed the $1 billion mark since 2007.

Last year, Turkey was Singapore's 46th largest trading partner, with total trade in goods amounting to $1.41 billion. Also last year, Singapore imported from Turkey goods amounting to $753 million, comprising mostly petroleum oils, turbo propellers and parts, and semi-manufactured silver.

Singapore exports to Turkey during the same period totalled $657 million, comprising mainly polyethylene and turbo jet components.

Turkish direct investment in Singapore reached $135 million as of 2015, while Singapore's direct investment in Turkey as of 2015 was $218 million.

Today, apart from trade and investment, the two countries have cooperated in many areas, including defence, counter-terrorism, education and provision of technical assistance to other countries.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement that the TRSFTA "will help more Singapore companies to leverage Turkey's strategic location as a gateway to the larger regional markets in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa". It added: "Turkish firms are also encouraged to use Singapore as their base to seek opportunities in the rapidly growing Asean region and beyond."

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