Friday 20 July 2018

Singapore ratifies TPP-11 trade deal to become 3rd nation to do so after Mexico and Japan

Singapore ratifies the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) for market of 500 million people
It is third country to approve CPTPP; deal shows Singapore's commitment to free trade: PM Lee Hsien Loong
By Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times, 20 Jul 2018

Singapore has ratified a key regional trade deal that looked dead and buried 18 months ago after President Donald Trump said the United States would not sign on.

Regional leaders revived the wide-ranging pact, and inked a revised deal in March. Singapore's formal adoption of the deal makes it the third country to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after Mexico and Japan.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted in a Facebook post that "amid growing trade tensions and anti-globalisation sentiments, the CPTPP signals Singapore's commitment to free trade and a rules-based trading system".

He also thanked the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) team for its hard work on this project over many years.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing called the CPTPP an important agreement that will complement Singapore's existing network of bilateral trade deals. "It will strengthen trade among countries in the Asia-Pacific, resulting in a more seamless flow of goods, services and investment," he said.

The CPTPP, which is a revision of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership after the US withdrew from it in January last year, will foster trade in a combined market of 500 million people with a gross domestic product of US$10 trillion (S$13.7 trillion).

The historic pact establishes rules in new areas, such as e-commerce, and will enter into force 60 days after six of the 11 signatories ratify the agreement.

Mexico was the first to ratify the agreement in April, with Japan following suit on July 6. The other countries in the bloc are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.

All businesses are expected to benefit. Mr Chan noted on Facebook that the pact "also promotes innovation, productivity, competitiveness and inclusive trade, bringing benefits to even small and medium-sized businesses".

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted that the deal "will create more economic opportunities for Singapore companies, which will be better placed to tap growth opportunities and increased market access in the Asia-Pacific".

Talks on the CPTPP concluded on Jan 23 in Tokyo, and the agreement was signed on March 8 in Santiago.

Singapore companies interested in business opportunities in CPTPP countries can contact Enterprise Singapore or visit the MTI website for more information.

Singapore Business Federation chief executive Ho Meng Kit said there will be rules that will promote the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"For example, there is a chapter that includes commitments to provide user-friendly and easily accessible information of CPTPP provisions for SMEs," he noted. "The agreement also has modern rules on e-commerce which will allow these companies to participate across the various countries.

Parliament: Singapore economy, exports set to grow 0.2% more with CPTPP trade deal, says Chan Chun Sing
Transpacific pact opens markets, widens access for firms
By Ng Jun Sen, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

Singapore's economy is expected to grow 0.2 per cent more by 2035, arising from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Total exports are also expected to go up by the same percentage in the same period.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing gave these estimates in Parliament yesterday, in response to a question about the economic benefits of the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

It is expected to come into force by the first quarter of 2019 once six of the 11 countries involved have ratified the agreement. So far, Mexico, Japan and Singapore have done so.

The United States, which had dropped out of the TPP, can decide whether it wishes to join the CPTPP after it comes into force, said Mr Chan. US President Donald Trump was said to have expressed interest in joining the CPTPP in April.

The multilateral agreement sets out how member countries can trade freely and openly with one another in a rules-based trading system.

Mr Chan said Singapore companies will have better access to opportunities in CPTPP markets, including Mexico and Canada, both of which the Republic currently has no free trade agreements with.

He set out four benefits that the deal will bring, in response to a parliamentary question by Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC).

First, goods producers, such as those that manufacture processed food and apparel, will be able to tap the preferential tariffs when exporting to a CPTPP nation.

Second, service providers can have preferential access to a wide range of sectors, such as transport in Australia, energy and telecommunications in Mexico and professional services in Canada.

Third, investors will no longer be subject to foreign equity restrictions in CPTPP markets. Such restrictions currently apply in the private healthcare, telecommunications, courier, energy and environmental services sectors in Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, for instance.

Fourth, Singapore companies will be able to bid for government contracts in Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam, which were previously closed to foreign bidders.

"Beyond specific business opportunities, the value of the CPTPP is in establishing a common set of enforceable rules that govern trade and investment in the 21st century," said Mr Chan. These include rules in the areas of e-commerce and innovative industries, and also provisions to help small and medium-sized enterprises, he said.

Mr Chan said his ministry will work with other agencies, such as Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board, and the Singapore Business Federation and other trade associations and chambers, to reach out to Singapore firms on the benefits of the CPTPP.

As a whole, the CPTPP is expected to generate an additional $147 billion in global income. Its members account for around 13.5 per cent of the global economy, with a combined market of 500 million people.

Singapore ratifies the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership -19 Jul 2018

CPTPP: Singapore inks new Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with 10 other countries -9 Mar 2018

CPTPP: Trans-Pacific trade pact will enter into force on 30 December 2018

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