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Singapore, US Reaffirm Commitment to FTA

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

08 December 2009

During the fifth annual review of the US-Singapore free trade agreement (USSFTA) on December 4, 2009, it was noted how bilateral trade between the two countries had increased by almost 20% since it came into force in 2004.

The USSFTA was the first comprehensive US free trade agreement with an Asian country, and entered into force on January 1, 2004. The two countries meet annually to review the implementation of the FTA and to seek to resolve outstanding trade issues. As well as timetables for eliminating duties on bilateral trade, the USSFTA also includes detailed schedules of commitments on rules of origin and in services and investment, including financial services.

While bilateral trade, totaling SGD86.3bn (USD62.1bn), was 2.1% down in 2008, compared to the previous year, due to the global economic downturn, it was still nearly 20% greater than 2004. Bilateral investment has also recorded a significant increase. Latest figures show that investment flows have risen by over 35% from SGD37.7bn at end-2003, to SGD51.1bn at end-2007.

US figures show that, in the period since 2004, US exports have increased by 73%, with a steady growth in exports of medical devices, machinery, and construction equipment.

A press release after the review reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to the effective enforcement of their bilateral trade agreement. Officials on both sides welcomed the USSFTA's continued progress in boosting flows of goods, services and investment in both directions. Discussions covered a wide range of issues, including market access for goods, customs administration, environmental cooperation and intellectual property.

In view of the current downturn, the US and Singapore noted the continuing benefits of the USSFTA. The US, it was said, has been a key trading partner for Singapore, with both countries sharing similar objectives on a wide range of economic issues, including efforts to promote greater regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

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