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USA and Singapore Sign Free Trade Agreement

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 6, 2003

Joint Statement Between the United States of America and Singapore

May 6, 2003



President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong today signed the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and celebrated the strength and vitality of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Singapore.

In the signing ceremony and in their Oval Office meeting, the two leaders expressed conviction that the FTA, the first ever between the United States and an Asian nation, would enhance mutual prosperity and reinforce the strategic partnership between the two nations. The two leaders expressed hope that the FTA would be a catalyst for trade liberalization and enhanced growth in the region and beyond. In this regard, the President and the Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a successful outcome at the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations. The President also reaffirmed his commitment to the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), which he launched at APEC in 2002 with Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EAI sets forth a roadmap to promote increased investment, economic growth, and free trade between the United States and ASEAN countries.

The President and the Prime Minister agreed that the U.S.-Singapore security partnership has helped foster stability in Asia. The President also thanked Singapore for its leadership beyond the region, including as a key member of the Coalition on Iraq. Singapore supported the U.S.-led coalition to disarm Iraq out of a belief that the world must send a strong message of deterrence to other regimes and terrorist networks that might be looking to use weapons of mass destruction. Prime Minister Goh welcomed the successful conclusion of combat operations in Iraq, and the two leaders agreed to cooperate closely to deliver the humanitarian assistance and services necessary to help the people of Iraq build a stable, prosperous, and democratic state. In that regard, the President welcomed Singapore's offer to dispatch a medical team, police personnel, and technicians to help rebuild Iraq.

President Bush and Prime Minister Goh reviewed recent developments in Southeast Asia. President Bush praised Singapore's efforts to respond to the challenge of terrorism in Southeast Asia. The two leaders noted that enhanced cooperation among ASEAN nations and international cooperation with the region has helped disrupt terror plots and led to the apprehension of members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network. They welcomed recent arrests in Indonesia and the exceptional progress made in the investigation of the October 2002 Bali bombings. However, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that the war against terrorism in Southeast Asia is far from over. The two leaders pledged to redouble their efforts to work with other leaders in the region and through multilateral organizations, including ASEAN and APEC, to defeat terrorism. They also reaffirmed their commitment to work with other states in Asia to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

President Bush and Prime Minister Goh discussed the global health threat posed by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). President Bush commended Singapore for its quick, decisive, and transparent response to SARS and expressed confidence that Singapore's efforts to prevent the spread of the disease would succeed. President Bush also welcomed Prime Minister Goh's leadership in initiating the Special ASEAN Leaders Meeting and ASEAN-China Leaders Meeting on SARS held in Bangkok on April 29, 2003. Given American leadership in the biomedical field and Singapore's advanced research facilities, President Bush and Prime Minister Goh agreed that the two countries should explore prospects for collaborative efforts to understand new health threats which put the world community at risk, including tropical diseases and biological warfare agents. The two leaders tasked their respective health and medical experts to begin consultations on possible joint projects.

The warm discussion between the President and the Prime Minister and the signing of the U.S.-Singapore FTA strengthens their personal friendship and the partnership between their two nations. The goodwill generated today will be valuable in moving forward on their common agendas.

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