Big cost savings for exporters with new agreement

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing delivering opening remarks at the opening ceremony of the 50th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting on Aug 29, 2018.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing delivering opening remarks at the opening ceremony of the 50th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting on Aug 29, 2018. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Singapore-based exporters could potentially enjoy annual savings of about half a million dollars by not having to apply for a hardcopy certificate of origin (CO), said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

This benefit comes about from one of the two agreements signed at the 50th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting yesterday evening.

The two agreements will see Asean service providers gain greater market access, while exporters will enjoy more convenience. Exporters will benefit from the signing of the first protocol to amend the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga) so as to implement the Asean-wide Self-Certification (AWSC) regime.

This allows certified exporters to self-certify the origin of their goods and thus enjoy preferential treatment under Atiga. The regime gives greater convenience to businesses and helps them save costs as they will not need to apply to the authorities for the hardcopy certificate.

The second agreement was the protocol to implement the 10th and final package of commitments for the Asean Framework Agreement on Services (Afas), with member states increasing the depth of their commitments and opening up new service sectors.

Afas was first signed in 1995, with restrictions on trade in services being progressively reduced or eliminated with successive packages of commitments. With the latest package, it will be easier for service providers in Asean to participate in previously closed sectors such as logistics, air and maritime transport, computer services, telecommunications and tourism.

The two agreements are longstanding initiatives that have been much anticipated by the private sector, said Mr Chan. "We are confident that the completion of the Afas and the AWSC will contribute to a more open and facilitative business environment in Asean."

Start-ups and businesses in Japan and Singapore will receive more support under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on the sidelines of the event between Singapore's Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro).

The three parties will improve access and opportunities via new initiatives, events and information exchanges, strengthening links between Singapore and Japan's innovation ecosystems.

The MOU also marks the inclusion of Japan in Singapore's Global Innovation Alliance.

Enterprise Singapore deputy chief executive officer Ted Tan said: "Through this partnership, we will work with Jetro and their partners to enable Singapore start-ups to tap Japan's strong innovation ecosystem and work together with high-potential Japanese start-ups to jointly enter the Asean market through Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2018, with the headline 'Big cost savings for exporters with new agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe