Search

 

Cablegate: Singapore Signs Fta with Gulf Cooperation Council

VZCZCXRO9375
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGP #1315 3530629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180629Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6151
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SINGAPORE 001315

STATE PASS USTR

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD SN

SUBJECT: SINGAPORE SIGNS FTA WITH GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL

1. Summary: Singapore signed a Free Trade Agreement with the six
Arab countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), significantly
liberalizing trade with an increasingly important trading partner
and destination for foreign investment. Ninety-nine percent of
Singapore's domestic exports to the area will soon enter tariff
free; GCC countries obtained better market access in Singapore's
service sectors. A key benefit in the agreement was the GCC's
recognition of Singapore's standards for halal food, which will
increase Singapore's food exports and promote Middle East tourism to
Singapore. End Summary.

2. During a December 15 visit to Qatar, Singapore PM Lee Hsien
Loong signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with his counterparts from
the Gulf Cooperation Council that will bring about a reduction in
tariffs in one of Singapore's leading trading partners. The
agreement was completed in January 2008 after four rounds of
negotiations, but legal reviews delayed signing until the end of the
year. The Singapore FTA was reportedly the first the GCC has
negotiated as a group, but is the 14th for Singapore and its second
in the Middle East after Jordan. Apart from trade in goods and
services, the FTA also covers government procurement, electronic
commerce, customs procedures, and economic cooperation.

3. The GCC, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were as a group Singapore's
seventh largest trading partner in 2007. Trade has more than
doubled in the past five years. Bilateral trade hit over US$28
billion in 2007, though most of the trade was skewed toward the GCC.
Singapore's exports to the area in 2007 were worth US$5 billion,
more than half of which were re-exports, rather than items produced
in Singapore. Ninety-four percent of the GCC's exports to Singapore
were oil or oil-related products. About 40 percent of Singapore's
oil imports are from GCC countries.

4. After ratification by the signatories, the FTA will eliminate
tariffs on 99 percent of Singapore's domestic exports to the GCC
countries, up from only 10 percent currently. The FTA only excludes
products that contain pork. Mr. LIM Teck Yong, Senior Assistant
Director at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), told Econoff
that the tariff elimination would benefit Singapore's electronics
manufacturers and exporters of heavy equipment like tankers and oil
drilling equipment. Singapore has virtually no tariffs on imports,
and therefore the immediate benefits to the GCC for trade in goods
would be relatively light. However, Lim said the GCC obtained
important concessions on services, including additional market
access for professional and legal services, engineering services and
business services like advertising, retail and transport.

5. Key for Singapore among the FTA's concessions was a greater
recognition of Singapore's standards for halal food in the GCC
countries. GCC signatories committed to either recognize the
Singapore Muis Halal Standards as compliant with standards in their
own countries, or to begin talks to do so. Recognition of
Singapore's halal standards will facilitate trade of Singapore's
food exports, and also promote GCC tourism to Singapore as Gulf
visitors will be more certain their dietary requirements will be
met.

6. The FTA does not specifically cover investment, but calls for
GCC member countries to negotiate bilateral investment guarantee
treaties with Singapore within two years. Bahrain, Oman and Saudi
Arabia have already done so. MTI's Lim said the signatories agreed
to negotiate separate agreements to focus on particular interests of
each country, rather than settling for a blanket agreement that
covered only the lowest common denominator. Singapore's investments
in the GCC reached $US238 million in 2006.
HERBOLD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC