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Asia-Pacific Business Chambers Want TPP on Agenda

Issued on behalf of AmCham Singapore, AustCham Singapore, the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation

Singapore, October 28, 2009 – As Singapore prepares to host the APEC Summit, four business chambers have expressed their support for negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The trade agreement, which currently includes signatories Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand, is designed to accommodate new members and, say the chambers, expanding the agreement to include Australia, Peru, and Vietnam and the US “could result in a mutually-beneficial trade agreement amongst like-minded economies.”

Trade discussions at the 2009 APEC Leaders’ Meeting could potentially pave the way to a strong and comprehensive Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership Agreement (TPP). Each of the four chambers will, therefore, encourage their respective government to place the TPP negotiations at the top of their trade policy agendas.

Explains Chairman of AmCham Singapore, Steven R. Okun:

“Living in Singapore, we see first-hand the speed with which Asian economies are emerging from the global economic downturn. A firm and increasing commitment by the US to the region via TPP negotiations will keep US companies connected to the world’s fastest-growing region. AmCham members are aware of the potential benefits the TPP can bring to the US economy, its businesses and workers.”

The TPP has the potential to improve access to key markets and to influence the pace and terms of regional integration. It is seen as an ideal conduit for advancing free trade for the benefit of businesses, workers, and consumers.

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The leaders of the American, Australian and New Zealand chambers and the Singapore Business Federation began meeting in early September this year as part of an initiative spearheaded by The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore).

According to Singapore Business Federation CEO, Ten Theng Dar:

"The TPP will make the APEC region a faster, easier, and cheaper place to do business. It will especially benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, which have more difficulty understanding the complexities and interactions of the many current free trade agreements across APEC."

"The TPP can be a revolutionary agreement by going beyond the scope of most bilateral trade agreements to cover services, new technologies, and behind-the-border trade barriers. It can truly benefit businesses of all sectors and sizes by providing a more manageable framework than many competing bilateral trade agreements," says President of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, Stefan Focas.

"There is a raft of short term benefits that will flow to Australian businesses if Australia enters the TPP. But the real win will be in the longer term if our entry, along with that of the US and Vietnam, encourages others to join and generates momentum toward an Asia-Pacific free Trade Zone,” said Nicholas Cocks, President of the AustCham Singapore.

Currently, there are more than 40 bilateral trade agreements operating across APEC and a TPP, say the chambers, is a natural progression toward multilateral agreements.

Moreover, a TPP could be a vehicle for incremental progress toward a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific incrementally. As the hosting of APEC moves from Singapore to Japan to the US in 2011, there is a three-year window which can result in concrete achievements.

The chambers collectively represent over 1,200 foreign companies operating in Singapore and more than 15,000 local companies. Together, they represent billions of investment in Singapore and the region.

About AmCham Singapore

AmCham Singapore is the leading international business association in Singapore, with 3,700 members representing over 650 American, Singaporean, and other international companies. The US has over USD106 billion of investment in Singapore.

About AustCham Singapore

The Australian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore (AustCham) is an organisation with 550 members which fosters, and provides a forum for, business links between Australia and Singapore.

About the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Singapore

The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (Singapore) operates on behalf of its 280 members, assisting and serving business interests to benefit both countries.

About the Singapore Business Federation

The Singapore Business Federation is the apex business chamber that champions the interests of the Singapore business community in trade, investment and industrial relations. It represents more than 15,000 companies as well as the local and foreign business chambers and key national and industry associations from business sectors that contribute significantly to the Singapore economy.


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