Turkey, S'pore FTA to take effect in October

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the official welcome ceremony at the Istana yesterday.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the official welcome ceremony at the Istana yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

A bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that Singapore and Turkey have ratified will go into force on Oct 1, marking a new milestone in the relations of the "gateway" nations to their respective regions.

The FTA was announced yesterday at a joint press conference at the Istana by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

The Turkey-Singapore FTA (TRSFTA) signed in November 2015 is a comprehensive agreement that covers a wide range of areas, including good and services, e-commerce, competition and transparency.

"I look forward to the FTA entering into force soon," Mr Lee said. "This TRSFTA is another significant milestone in our bilateral relationship. It will send a strong signal to our business communities and strengthen our economic ties."

Mr Yildirim told reporters that bilateral trade has been on the rise and that he is confident the FTA will boost trading volumes.

It was a hectic day for Mr Yildirim, who arrived here on Sunday. He paid a courtesy call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam before meeting Mr Lee, who hosted him to dinner. In the afternoon, Mr Yildirim attended the 5th Turkey-Singapore Business Forum and delivered a keynote speech at the 41st Singapore Lecture.

He is scheduled to visit Jurong Island and PSA's port facilities today before leaving for Vietnam.

The two countries, which share longstanding warm bilateral ties, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019. Mr Yildirim is the second Turkish prime minister to visit Singapore, following then prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's official visit in 2014.

Singapore-Turkey relations have grown steadily, especially after the two countries signed a Strategic Partnership in 2014. Annual bilateral trade has crossed the $1 billion mark since 2007.

Last year, Turkey was Singapore's 46th largest trading partner, with total trade in goods amounting to $1.41 billion. Also last year, Singapore imported from Turkey goods amounting to $753 million, comprising mostly petroleum oils, turbo propellers and parts, and semi-manufactured silver.

Singapore exports to Turkey during the same period totalled $657 million, comprising mainly polyethylene and turbo jet components.

Turkish direct investment in Singapore reached $135 million as of 2015, while Singapore's direct investment in Turkey as of 2015 was $218 million.

Today, apart from trade and investment, the two countries have cooperated in many areas, including defence, counter-terrorism, education and provision of technical assistance to other countries.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement that the TRSFTA "will help more Singapore companies to leverage Turkey's strategic location as a gateway to the larger regional markets in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa". It added: "Turkish firms are also encouraged to use Singapore as their base to seek opportunities in the rapidly growing Asean region and beyond."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Turkey, S'pore FTA to take effect in October'. Print Edition | Subscribe