The Partnership is a proposed regional free-trade agreement between 12 countries responsible for about 40 per cent of the world’s GDP and 26 per cent of its trade.
It has been 10 years since the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into effect. During this period, bilateral ties between the two countries have made significant progress and business leaders say they are looking forward to greater cooperation between both sides through multi-lateral agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
ExxonMobil is one of the American companies that has increased investments here, particularly since the US-Singapore FTA kicked in. Over the years, it has invested about S$13 billion in Singapore, and last week broke ground on two new specialty units facilities on Jurong Island.
“The stocktake of the US Singapore FTA after 10 years is nothing short of impressive,” said Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation. “Bilateral trade between the US and Singapore has grown by 60 per cent over the 10 year period. Also, US direct investments here at the end of 2013 was at US$154 billion. This is several times the investment number in 2003.” Total trade between Singapore and the US was at S$78 billion in 2013.
Given the success of the free-trade pact, there has been a push for even more cooperation at the multi-lateral level, in forms such as the TPP. This Partnership is a proposed regional free-trade agreement between 12 countries responsible for about 40 per cent of the world’s GDP and 26 per cent of its trade.
American Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judith Fergin urged negotiating parties to complete the TPP as soon as possible, while maintaining or exceeding the high standards established by the US-Singapore FTA. Calling Singapore an “enduring partner”, United States Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar said his team here and their Washington colleagues are “firmly committed” to ensuring the TPP is a comprehensive deal.
The agreement should provide “new and meaningful market access for goods and services, strong and enforcable labour standards and environmental commitments, new rules designed to ensure fair competition between state-owned enterprises and private companies, commitments to improve its transparency, consistency of the regulatory environment to make it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to operate across the region, a robust intellectual property rights framework to promote innovation and a thriving digital economy”, he said.
Industry leaders note that while the US continues to play a leadership role in this region, its focus can no longer be one-dimensional. Said Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh: “The US policy towards Asia cannot be uni-dimensional. It cannot be focused only on security and the military. It has to be a comprehensive engagement involving all sectors, including business, economics, culture, education, environment, gender equity and so on. We need more investment from America. We want more trade with America.”
Source : Channel News Asia | October 29, 2014