Singapore and US celebrate 10th anniversary of historic FTA

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives a speech during a reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of US-Singapore FTA at the US Chamber of Commerce, in Washington DC, USA, on June 24, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives a speech during a reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of US-Singapore FTA at the US Chamber of Commerce, in Washington DC, USA, on June 24, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 

Singapore and the United States marked the 10th anniversary of their landmark free trade pact on Tuesday, with a reception in Washington DC organised by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-Asean Business Council and attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has raised bilateral trade and made Singapore the largest recipient of US investment in the Asia Pacific as of 2012, Mr Lee told a 150-strong audience of diplomats and business leaders.

US exports to Singapore have increased more than 90 per cent since 2003, reaching US$42.8 billion (S$53.46 billion) in 2012. Total bilateral trade has risen 70 per cent in the same time to US$67.9 billion.

But the perks extend beyond economics, Mr Lee noted. The pact – America’s first with an Asian country and still its only one with an Asean nation – deepened the US’ engagement of Asia by laying the foundation for other US FTAs including with South Korea and Australia, as well as for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, Mr Lee said in a speech.

It also “enhanced America's longstanding presence in the Asia-Pacific and it’s caused other regional countries to sit up and to take note, and to think how they too could deepen their relationship with the US”, he added.

The landmark pact was the first high-standard FTA and ushered in a new era of US trade policy, said the US Chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs Myron Brilliant at Tuesday’s reception. The Chamber estimates that trade with Singapore now supports more than 850,000 American jobs.

“American investment in Asean is greater than US investment in the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries combined, and Singapore serves as the entry point for most of that investment,” added Mr Alexander Feldman, president and chief executive of the Washington-based US-Asean Business Council, which represents more than 125 major US companies in Asean.