Channel NewsAsia, Singapore
S’pore-US FTA a boost to bilateral trade, has potential to grow
By Channel NewsAsia’s May Wong reporting from Washington
4 May 2007
WASHINGTON: The US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has helped boost bilateral trade significantly and there is still potential to grow further.
This point was made at a meeting between visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez in Washington DC on Thursday.
Both men also expressed hope that the success of the US-Singapore FTA will spur Washington to conclude other similar agreements with ASEAN and other Asian countries.
Prime Minister Lee said that since the US-Singapore FTA was signed in 2003, bilateral trade has increased by 40 percent and America’s exports to Singapore have grown by 28 percent.
Mr Lee added that the US, in fact, enjoyed an export surplus with Singapore.
Despite being a small country, Mr Lee said Singapore is America’s 9th largest export market.
And he said there is room for growth, not just in terms of goods and services but also in areas like intellectual property protection and business cooperation beyond Singapore and in the region.
Mr Lee said: "We’re happy not just for direct bilateral relations but also we hope that America will continue to engage and develop its trading links with our ASEAN partners and other countries in the region, because the stronger America’s ties with Asia, with Southeast Asia and Singapore within that, I think the better it is for us in Southeast Asia, where America has many interests and many friends."
Agreeing, Commerce Secretary Gutierrez said that thanks to the US-Singapore FTA, bilateral relationship is growing very rapidly.
"We use the US FTA as an example on why Free Trade Agreements are good and why FTA works for both countries. Two-way trade between Singapore and the US is about US$42 billion. And just to give you an idea of how big that is, that’s more trade than we do with some of the largest countries in the world. So it’s a tremendous future and it does suggest that we could replicate that model elsewhere in Asia."
Mr Gutierrez gave the assurance that the current administration is focused on such opportunities and wants to move forward in negotiating similar types of trade agreements that will benefit all.