How local businesses can benefit from FTAs

It has been 20 years since Singapore signed its first free trade agreement (FTA), with New Zealand in 1999. Since then, the Republic has inked a further 24 FTAs with 36 trading partners around the world that provide benefits to local enterprises doing business in these markets. Yet, the awareness of FTAs and how to use them still remains relatively low, especially among SMEs.

At the recent FTA Symposium to mark the 20th anniversary of the inception of Singapore’s FTA strategy, Singapore companies were urged to tap on the country’s network of FTAs to stay nimble and expand their businesses overseas amid a slowing economy.

Government agencies as well as organisations like SBF and other trade associations and chambers have been holding roadshows, lectures and workshops to help businesses understand the pacts.

Key facts about Singapore’s FTAs

How have Singapore companies benefited from FTAs?

A study by MTI estimated that, on average, Singapore businesses’ export of goods to a trade agreement partner increases by about 18% two years after the FTA’s entry into force and a further 16% in the third year.

Who can use an FTA?

Manufacturers, service providers, investors, designers and e-commerce players, among others.

What can an FTA be used for?

The entire spectrum of business activities, including the production of goods, provision of services, investment, bidding of government projects, R&D, design and e-commerce.

Where are the markets covered by Singapore’s FTAs?

Some 36 trading partners across 24 FTAs, including established markets such as the US, China, Japan, as well as high-growth markets such as India and ASEAN.

How can the FTA be used?

To obtain tariff savings, better market access, more equal treatment and improved IP protection. This will result in more business opportunities for local businesses.

Where can I find out more?

You can get more information about FTAs and how they can help your business here.