US business group in Singapore urges its govt to join CPTPP

A key American business group here has urged the US government to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The call from the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore) comes as Canada, Japan and Mexico are moving forward on legislation to approve their entry into the wide-ranging trade pact that was signed in March by 11 nations, including Singapore.

The agreement incorporates the original Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that United States President Donald Trump pulled out of in January last year.

The CPTPP's aims are to simplify trade, support investment, facilitate the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises, and instil market confidence.

The deal takes effect 60 days after six countries join it.

But without the US government's agreement, American businesses will be disadvantaged, said Mr Steven Okun, chairman of the AmCham Singapore TPP Task Force.

"While AmCham Singapore will work with its members on deriving the fullest benefits possible under the CPTPP, especially given all the work to be undertaken by the parties to meet the highest standard trade agreement ever negotiated, this will not be as impactful without the US government," he added.

Also, "the provisions suspended upon US withdrawal, from e-commerce to express delivery, will put US businesses at a disadvantage to their foreign counterparts".

The TPP task force was created in 2015 to communicate to US legislators and opinion-makers the trade pact's value to US business.

Two years later, AmCham Singapore became the first US business association to call for the CPTPP to go forward, even without the US government.

AmCham Singapore believes the CPTPP will help bolster economic growth and development in the Asia-Pacific region, while also representing the future of sustainable international trade.

AmCham Singapore chairman Dwight Hutchins said in a statement: "As Singapore serves as America's business headquarters for Asia, we see trade liberalisation continuing across the region.

"The CPTPP is the best and most strategic trade framework from a business perspective and the US needs to be a member for American businesses in Singapore, across the region and at home to remain at the forefront of 21st-century trade."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2018, with the headline US business group in Singapore urges its govt to join CPTPP. Subscribe