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SBF promotes Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA) in Oman and Saudi Arabia

  • Business delegation accompanied Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan on six-day mission to Muscat, Riyadh and Jeddah
  • Co-organised GSFTA Outreach Forums to increase awareness of the FTA amongst the local business community

8 May 2014 [Singapore] – The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) concludes its six-day business mission to Oman and Saudi Arabia today. The business delegation, accompanied Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, on his official visit to the two countries, visiting the cities of Muscat, Riyadh and Jeddah from 3 – 8 May 2014.

A series of forums, aimed at promoting the benefits of GSFTA to the local Omani and Saudi business community, were held in each city. Graced by Mr Lee Yi Shyan as Guest of Honour, the forums were attended by about 100 local businessmen from each city. The mission was co-organised by SBF and its counterparts; Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The GSFTA which came into effect on 1 September 2013 covers a population reach of over 40 million and provides greater market access for Singapore companies looking to expand into the region. Seeking to benefit companies in the sectors of construction, education, healthcare, transport and distribution, environmental services and tourism, the agreement has also opened up new business opportunities, allowing Singapore companies to participate in government procurement tenders issued by the GCC countries. Concluded in 2008, the GSFTA marks the first Free Trade Agreement between the six GCC countries and a non-Middle Eastern country.

Co-Mission Leader Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Advisor to SBF’s Middle East Business Group and Chairman of Gryphon Investment Management Pte Ltd, said “We are pleased with the large turnout from the local business community at the outreach forums held in Muscat, Riyadh and Jeddah. This shows strong interest from the Omani and Saudi companies in doing business with Singapore. Although the GSFTA has only come into force recently, the effort and support from the business communities will go a long way. We urge companies from Singapore and the GCC region to work closely with the government agencies, and provide continuous feedback, so as to ensure maximum benefits from the FTA are actualised.”

In response to the new business opportunities resulting from the GSFTA, Mr Casey Chew, Business Development Manager from Khong Guan Biscuit Factory (S) Pte Ltd, and one of the mission participants, commented, “The GSFTA eases the barrier of trade to new markets for companies like us and lowers the costs of doing business in these large markets. From a strategic point of view, a lower pricing barrier will provide a more competitive advantage for us. The recognition of MUIS's halal certification helps us gain market entry quickly and also places us ahead of our competition.”

The Singapore business delegation consists of 13 participants representing 11 companies. The sectors represented include Office and Interior Furnishings, Confectionary Products, Stationery, Construction Equipment, Power and Utilities, Water Solutions, ICT, and Finance and Investment.

The delegation also participated in a business matching session with members of the local chambers of commerce and industry in Oman and Saudi Arabia, as well as held meetings with some of the largest multi-industry conglomerates in Saudi Arabia.

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