GCC-Singapore FTA comes into effect

Channel NewsAsia, Singapore

GCC-Singapore FTA comes into effect

By Teo Chia Leen

1 September 2013

SINGAPORE: The Gulf Cooperation Council-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA) came into effect on Sunday, 1 September.

The agreement will further enhance Singapore’s growing economic relations and trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), says Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The GCC consists of six countries in the Middle East - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The GSFTA is a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) covering trade in goods, trade in services, investments, rules of origin, customs procedures, government procurement, electronic commerce and economic cooperation.

MTI says Singapore is the first non-Middle East country to have an FTA with the GCC.

The FTA is Singapore’s second with the Middle East, after the Singapore-Jordan FTA in 2004.

For the first time, the GCC countries have committed to recognise the Singapore MUIS Halal Standards (SMHS) as similar to and consistent with their domestic Halal Standards.

Four out of the six GCC countries have already committed to recognise SMHS and the remaining two (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) will start negotiations shortly to do the same.

This will open up more opportunities in Singapore’s export of Halal products to the GCC states.

MTI adds that based on Singapore’s latest bilateral trade figures in 2012, S$3.98 billion worth of Singapore goods will qualify for immediate tariff-free treatment, while S$49.1 million worth of Singapore goods will qualify after 2018.

Major sectors that will benefit from the elimination of tariffs are telecommunications, electrical and electronic equipment, petrochemicals, jewellery, machinery and iron and steel-related industries.

Singapore will grant zero-tariff treatment to all GCC imports with immediate effect.

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