Parliamentary Question, 13 April 2015
UPDATE ON TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP NEGOTIATIONS
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) if he can provide an update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations; (b) when is the Agreement expected to be successfully concluded; (c) what are the key obstacles that need to be overcome; (d) to what extent the TPP is likely to improve market access for Singapore-based firms in US, Japan and other markets; and (e) what are our economic agencies doing to prepare Singapore firms, especially SMEs, to take advantage of the improved market access that a successfully concluded TPP can bring.
Mr Lim Hng Kiang: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is envisioned as a high-quality agreement that will boost regional economic integration and improve market access for our exports. It also serves as a possible pathway towards an eventual Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Significant progress has been made over the past five years of negotiations. All Parties are working hard to conclude negotiations as soon as possible given the economic and strategic importance of this agreement.
Singapore already has bilateral FTAs with nine of the eleven TPP Parties. The additional economic benefit of the TPP will come through enhanced cooperation on regulatory measures, and integration of this region into a single manufacturing base and market. Our businesses will find it easier to operate across all TPP countries, and participate in the global supply chain. Furthermore, common trade facilitation rules across TPP Parties will reduce compliance costs for businesses and generate substantial gains in supply chain efficiency for traders operating across them. These benefits are particularly important for SMEs, which will be able to operate with reduced cost and greater certainty. The TPP will also include disciplines on new growth sectors such as e-Commerce and Intellectual Property, which will help foster innovation and commercialisation of new insights and discoveries to benefit consumers.
IE Singapore promotes the awareness and utilisation of the various FTAs we have signed among Singapore-based companies, big and small, through both customised and broad-based outreach efforts. These include one-on-one briefings and consultations to companies and industries, as well as seminars co-organised with Trade Associations and Chambers to inform and educate the business community on the benefits of each FTA. There are also a range of capability-building initiatives such as the FTA Certificate Programme for companies and train-the-trainer sessions for Trade Associations and Chambers. Feedback channels are also open to companies to assist them with FTA implementation issues.