Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement with Turkey Comes into Force

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

The much-awaited Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) went into effect on October 1, this year. The agreement paves the way for freer movement of goods and services, and further investment opportunities between the two countries. The TRSFTA was first signed in November 2015 and covers a wide range of areas including goods and services, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, competition, and transparency.

According to the official press notification, tariffs for Singapore’s exports to Turkey on 80 percent of all tariff lines will be eliminated under the TRSFTA. The coverage will increase to more than 95 percent of all tariff lines over a period of 10 years.

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Exporters, however, must note that the preferential tariff treatment permitted under the TRSFTA only pertains to customs duties. All other taxes, such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) and excise duty, are excluded from the scope of the agreement and remain applicable, where relevant.

Other key benefits under the agreement include fewer non-tariff barriers – both Turkey and Singapore will adopt international standards and practices in marking and labeling requirements; access to government procurement contract; and better access to each other’s services market, including retail services, business services, and construction services.

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Singaporean companies will hugely benefit from the free trade agreement with Turkey because of its proximity to, and its trade agreements with countries in Europe, Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Further, Turkey itself represents a large, dynamic market for Singapore companies, with a population of 80 million and a gross domestic product (GDP) of nearly US$860 billion in 2016. Turkey is a successful regional hub for manufacturing and other business activities.

Turkish companies too stand to gain under this agreement as it will offer them an easy market access into the rapidly growing ASEAN region and beyond.

Singapore exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and processed food products will primarily gain from the tariff reduction as the Rules of Origin signed under the agreement consider Singapore’s unique regional supply chain and local production processes.

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