Good progress on trade deal with EAEU: Tharman

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the 10th Gaidar Forum convened by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the 10th Gaidar Forum convened by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.PHOTO: THARMAN@ THARMAN_S/ TWITTER

Singapore, Russia and their partners in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are making good progress on concluding the EAEU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the middle of the year, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Tuesday.

Mr Tharman was in Russia's capital, Moscow, for meetings on bilateral economic initiatives as well as on the trade pact, and posted the update on his Twitter account.

The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that Mr Tharman met First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov and Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin.

He also spoke at the 10th Gaidar Forum convened by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, where he was in a panel discussion with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and officials from several European countries on national strategies to enable the positives of globalisation to outweigh the negatives.

Russia is among five member states of the EAEU, which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The economic bloc represents a market of over 180 million people with a combined gross domestic product of US$1.8 trillion (S$2.4 trillion).

The first round of negotiations for the EAEU-Singapore FTA was in August 2017, and five more rounds have been held since.

"The EAEU represents a large, relatively untapped market for Singapore businesses," a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.

"Given Singapore's economic profile and lack of natural resources, it is important for Singapore to remain plugged into the global supply chain. This would enable our companies to tap the opportunities beyond our limited borders, and enhance Singapore's value proposition to potential investors," the spokesman added.

"The EAEU-Singapore FTA would function as a catalyst for greater business linkages between our countries, creating diverse opportunities for trade and investment beyond Singapore's traditional markets, and enabling our businesses to operate seamlessly across the various countries."

When concluded and upon entry into force, the FTA will improve access of Singapore's goods and services trade with EAEU members via lower tariffs and lifting of barriers.

It will also protect Singapore investments and intellectual property in the EAEU market, promote electronic commerce and save costs for Singapore companies by streamlining Customs processes, and enable closer collaboration between Singapore and the EAEU in competition enforcement, Customs cooperation and trade facilitation, the MTI spokesman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Good progress on trade deal with EAEU: Tharman'. Print Edition | Subscribe