Singapore firms better placed to tap opportunities: Minister

Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang signing the trade deal in Santiago on Thursday. Singapore is expected to be the second-biggest winner from the CPTPP after Malaysia, said Moody's, citing a report.
Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang signing the trade deal in Santiago on Thursday. Singapore is expected to be the second-biggest winner from the CPTPP after Malaysia, said Moody's, citing a report.PHOTO: REUTERS

The sweeping trade deal signed yesterday in Chile has unlocked considerable potential for Singapore firms, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang, who was in Santiago for the signing, noted: "Singapore companies will be better placed to tap growth opportunities and increased market access in the Asia-Pacific.

"With its high standards and business-facilitative trade rules, the CPTPP establishes a new regional standard for future free-trade agreements."

The 11 member countries will now work on their respective domestic ratification processes for the CPTPP, or the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the pact is known.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) said it will promote opportunities that the trade deal offers to local firms, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Over the last five years, exports of goods to CPTPP countries have accounted for more than a fifth of Singapore's total goods exports, noted SBF chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit.

The SBF is interested in questions such as how existing Singapore exporters to the CPTPP countries can benefit, and how firms interested in entering those markets can leverage provisions in the agreement for easier entry.

  • CALLING S'PORE FIRMS

  • Singapore companies interested in business and investment opportunities in the CPTPP countries can contact IE Singapore on 1800-IE-SPORE (1800 437 7673) or e-mail enquiry@iesingapore.gov.sg.

    Details of the SBF's free-trade agreement related outreach and education events are available on its website.

The 11 markets represent about 13.5 per cent of the world's gross domestic product and a market of 500 million people.

Singapore companies are expected to benefit from the substantial elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers for goods, improved access for service suppliers in a wide range of sectors, greater facilitation of investments and improved access to government procurement contracts.

DBS chief economist Taimur Baig said: "The Asia-centric nature of the agreement benefits Singapore as well, as the bulk of its trade takes place in the region. Improved access to the services market in Asia would be particularly beneficial to Singapore's growing service sector."

The CPTPP rose from the ashes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after the withdrawal of the United States from the trade pact in January last year. The revised pact incorporates the original TPP, but with some provisions suspended.

The MTI noted that "the door is open for like-minded parties to join the CPTPP once it has entered into force".

Ratings agency Moody's said that gains from the CPTPP will be smaller without the participation of the US but that the trade deal will still boost all members' exports and incomes.

Singapore is expected to be the second-biggest winner from the CPTPP after Malaysia, added Moody's, citing a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The October 2017 report estimated that the CPTPP will provide a 2.7 per cent boost to Singapore's real national income in 2030 compared with a scenario without the trade pact.

Moody's noted: "Singapore already has trade deals with eight CPTPP countries. Nevertheless, Singapore's exporters will benefit from new preferential trade access to Canada and Mexico, and unprecedented access to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Peru."

The other CPTPP countries are Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore firms better placed to tap opportunities: Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe