Australia’s Services Exports to Gain from Upgraded Free Trade Agreement with Singapore

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

Australia and Singapore, on 13 October, signed an agreement to upgrade the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). This will be the third update to the 2003 trade pact between the two countries, and is expected to come into force in 2017. The expansion is in line with a previous agreement in May between Malcolm Turnbull and Lee Hsien Loong, the prime ministers of Australia and Singapore respectively, to expand services export under the existing FTA. The upgraded FTA is slated to benefit the financial, legal, education and professional services industries of the two countries.

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According to Australia’s trade minister, Steven Ciobo, the latest expansion is the most comprehensive update of any of Australia’s existing FTAs, and will make it easier for Australian business personnel, including investors and service providers, to work in Singapore as well as provide greater opportunities for services exporters while reducing red tape for investors and exporters of goods and services. He remarked that with this expansion Singapore has given Australia its best FTA treatment, and has put Australian exporters on an equal or better footing than their foreign competitors.

According to Ciobo, the updated FTA “delivers big wins for Australian service providers with greater access and certainty in sectors such as education, law, financial and professional services”. For instance, the expanded FTA will allow Australian financial service firms to provide advisory services in Singapore, including investment and portfolio management services and brokerage services for insurance of maritime, aviation and transport-related risks, according to the government.

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Singapore has also agreed to recognise the Juris Doctor degrees of Australian universities, which are currently listed in SAFTA. As per the amended terms, Australia and Singapore will establish a framework to support mutual recognition of professional qualifications with priority slated to be given to arrangements for engineers and accountants. Australia and Singapore share strong commercial ties, with bilateral trade reaching S$20 billion (US$14.3 billion) in 2015. Singapore is also Australia’s fifth largest trading and investment partner, as well as its largest trading partner within ASEAN. For more information on trade and investment opportunities in Singapore, please contact our specialists at asean@dezshria.com or visit us online at www.dezshira.com 


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