S'pore and Turkey on track to ink free trade deal

Trade and Industry Minister (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and his Turkish counterpart, Mr Nihat Zeybekci, signing a joint statement in Istanbul.
Trade and Industry Minister (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and his Turkish counterpart, Mr Nihat Zeybekci, signing a joint statement in Istanbul.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Trade ministers aim to sign agreement on the sidelines of the G-20 Leaders' Summit in Antalya next month

Singapore and Turkey hope to finalise a free-trade agreement next month that will boost bilateral business and economic cooperation, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.

Trade and Industry Minister (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and his Turkish counterpart, Mr Nihat Zeybekci, said at a meeting in Istanbul yesterday that they will aim to sign the deal on the sidelines of the G-20 Leaders' Summit in Antalya, Turkey, next month.

Negotiations began in January last year when Turkey's then Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Singapore.

The agreement will generate more regional business and investment opportunities for companies in both countries, Mr Lim said, adding: "Singapore and Turkey occupy strategic locations in Asia and Europe, respectively, and can serve as gateways to larger markets for each other's companies."

Both countries will implement the agreement as soon as possible.

This will involve Turkey eliminating tariffs for Singapore exports on over 95 per cent of products.

"Singapore exporters, including exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food products, will benefit from the removal of Turkey's tariffs under Rules of Origin that take into account Singapore's unique regional supply chain and local production processed," the MTI noted.

Other benefits will include Turkish approval for Singapore companies to bid for government procurement contracts. It is Turkey's first such treaty commitment. Turkish companies will likewise be able to access Singapore's government procurement market. The countries will also improve access to each other's services markets such as retail, business and construction.

Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to around $1.4 billion in 2013, which still leaves a lot of room for growth, Singapore Business Federation chief Ho Meng Kit said. "On top of trading, our businesses are particularly interested in services sectors such as medical tourism, due to its proximity to Europe. Its sizeable automotive industry should also offer opportunities for our precision engineering firms," Mr Ho added.

News that the Turkey-Singapore free trade agreement is close to being finalised came just a day after the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership - including Singapore - concluded talks on the mega deal.

Singapore, which is a strong proponent of trade agreements, had also completed negotiations for a deal with the European Union in October last year.

The agreement now awaits approval by the European Commission, after which it will be ratified by the European Parliament.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore and Turkey on track to ink free trade deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe