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ASEAN and Singapore Extend Free Trade Agreements - International Law Office

International Law Office

International Trade - Singapore

ASEAN and Singapore Extend Free Trade Agreements

October 03 2008

Economic Community Developments
Singapore Free Trade Agreements

In recent weeks the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and member state Singapore have both announced progress in free trade agreement negotiations.

Economic Community Developments

At a meeting of ASEAN's economics ministers in Singapore on August 25 and 26 2008, ASEAN leaders announced the completion of negotiations on the following agreements:

  • The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement will integrate all existing ASEAN initiatives related to trade in goods into a comprehensive framework. The agreement contains a number of key features that enhance transparency, certainty and predictability.
  • The ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement will merge the ASEAN Investment Area Agreement and the ASEAN Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investment. Improvements include:
    • more detailed procedures;
    • a consultation mechanism;
    • compensation for expropriation; and
    • improved dispute resolution.
  • The ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations have resulted in the completion of agreements on trade in goods and dispute resolution.
  • The ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement negotiations have been completed, resulting in an agreement covering:
    • trade in goods;
    • investment;
    • trade in services;
    • financial services;
    • telecommunications;
    • e-commerce;
    • the movement of natural persons;
    • intellectual property;
    • competition policy; and
    • other economic cooperation.

Once finalized, the agreements will be presented to the summit in mid-December for signing by ASEAN leaders. The texts will then be released.

Mutual recognition arrangements covering accountancy services and dental and medical practitioners were signed at the Singapore meeting. The arrangements allow professionals licensed in one ASEAN member state to practise in other member states. The arrangements will be extended to tourism professionals by early 2009.

Singapore Free Trade Agreements

On September 4 2008 Singapore and China announced the completion of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. This will go beyond the existing ASEAN-China agreement, which covers only trade in goods and services, to include investment, travel, customs procedures and other related issues. National leaders will sign the new agreement in October 2008.

The United States has announced that it will join the 'Pacific Four' free trade agreement talks between Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The four Pacific Rim nations are negotiating as a bloc with other trading partners.

For further information on this topic please contact Edmund W Sim at Hunton & Williams LLP by telephone (+65 6876 6700) or by fax (+65 6876 6741) or by email (esim@hunton.com).

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