GCC-Singapore accord to boost economic ties
Manama, September 3, 2013
More than $3 billion worth of Singapore goods entering the GCC have become tariff-free, with the coming into force of the GCC-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA), a report said.
With effect from September 1, Singapore started granting zero-tariff treatment on all GCC imports, a joint statement by Singapore's Ministries of Trade and Industry and Foreign Affairs was quoted in the report by the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The agreement further enhances Singapore's growing economic relations and trade with the GCC.
Major sectors that will benefit are telecommunications, electrical and electronic equipment, petrochemicals, jewellery, machinery and iron and steel-related industries.
Based on bilateral trade figures for last year, $3.12 billion worth of Singapore goods will qualify for immediate tariff-free treatment, while $38.6 million worth of goods will qualify after 2018.
Bilateral trade with the GCC reached a record high of $53.8 billion last year, an increase of 62 per cent since 2007.
Since 2004, Singapore companies have secured over $16.3 billion of projects in the GCC states.
"The GSFTA coming into force will bring strong bilateral and economic ties between Singapore and the six GCC economies to a new level," Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said.
"Already, there are many Singapore and GCC companies actively pursuing opportunities and partnerships with each other. This will further enhance Singapore's role as a gateway city by connecting the two large regions of Asia and the Middle East and North Africa," Shyan added.
The GCC is currently Singapore's fifth largest trading partner and accounts for 35 per cent of Singapore's oil imports.
For the first time, GCC countries have also committed to recognise the Singapore MUIS halal standards as similar and consistent to their domestic halal standards.
Four of the six GCC countries have already committed to recognise SMHS and another two countries (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) will start negotiations shortly to do the same.
This will open up more opportunities in Singapore's export of halal products to the GCC states.
The GSFTA allows Singapore-based companies, Singapore nationals and permanent residents to hold majority stakes in key sectors of GCC markets.
Singapore has investment guarantee agreements in force with five out of six GCC countries, giving stronger protection to investments made in the markets on both sides. Both sides have agreed to enhance promotion and co-operation in key sectors like communications technology and air services. – TradeArabia News Service