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Gov’t unveils 3-step plan to strengthen SG’s trade foundations

The plan is in line with the government’s Trade 2030 strategy.

The government has unveiled a three-step plan that will further strengthen its trade foundations which in turn will help enhance Singapore’s connectivity and fortify its position as a global trading hub.

In his speech at the FTA Day 2022, Minister-In-Charge of Trade Relations and Minister for Transport, S Iswaran, said trade remains integral to the survival and success of Singapore’s economy thus why it has embarked on the Trade 2030 strategy.

To support this strategy, Iswaran said the government will be strengthening its trade foundations, including free trade agreements (FTA), in three ways.

The first step is by broadening the geographical coverage of the country's trade agreements by building a three-level trade network: multilateral, regional or plurilateral, and bilateral.

Since FTA Day 2020, the government have concluded three FTAs: the Regional Comprehensive Economy Partnership (RCEP) agreement,  the Pacific-Alliance Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PASFTA), and the UK-Singapore FTA (UKSFTA).

The second thrust in SG’s strategy is to deepen collaboration in new areas like digitalisation and sustainability.

“Like FTAs for trade in goods and services, international cooperation on digitalisation and sustainability can generate new economic opportunities and value,” Iswaran said.

Iswaran said Singapore has already forged digital economy agreements (DEAs) with five countries namely Australia, Chile, South Korea, New Zealand, and the UK. The DEAs allow for seamless cross-border digital trade, according to the minister.

On sustainability, Iswaran said Singapore has made national commitments under the UNFCCC to reduce carbon emissions.

“Singapore is working on new green economy agreements (GEAs). As a first-of-its-kind agreement, the GEA will serve as a strategic pathfinder that can contribute to building global capacity to address climate change,” the minister added.

The last step in the plan is to “aim for high and novel standards” in the agreements Singapore enters or forges.

“The consequential benefits, we believe, will have a strong demonstration effect, and in turn, galvanise other countries to adopt these standards and ultimately raise the global benchmark for trade rules,” Iswaran said.

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