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  • SBF applauds the significant progress of the RCEP and looks forward to its signing in 2020

SBF applauds the significant progress of the RCEP and looks forward to its signing in 2020

  • RCEP will boost global trade as it encourages an open trade ecosystem amidst growing protectionist sentiments
  • SBF aims to raise awareness of RCEP among our businesses so that they can leverage the benefits of the agreement for growth

Tuesday, 5 November 2019 [Singapore] The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) welcomes the positive development at the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, where ministers from 15 nations1 have reached an agreement for the world’s largest trade deal.

SBF commends the leaders’ commitment to the push towards an open trade ecosystem amidst growing protectionist sentiments globally. This statement comes as a silver lining to global trade during persisting US-China trade tension.

Accounting for up to one-third of global trade volume, RCEP will streamline the various rules and procedures as it brings 
together member parties of the ASEAN Plus agreements2 under one trading bloc. Once the agreement is put in force, businesses from the 15 nations will benefit from not having to grapple with the different rules of the various agreements when trading with these countries. This major trade deal seeks to lower tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, liberalise services across borders, improve investments protection, and offer intellectual property protection for goods. This agreement will also adopt a self-certification regime in the continuous effort to facilitate trade for the business community.

The RCEP holds great potential for businesses in Singapore, improving market access to up to 2.1 billion people. Once ratified and put in force, the agreement will further deepen and integrate supply chains in the region. Singapore companies will enjoy greater flexibility in sourcing from a greater pool of suppliers in the region for their customers at preferential tariff rates.

Said Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of SBF, “While it is regrettable that India is unable to come to consensus with the other member parties at this point of time, this agreement amongst the 15 countries still marks monumental progress for trade in the region. The FTA is at its last leg where all 15 participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations for all 20 chapters of the agreement and essentially all market access issues. There is the task of legal scrubbing ahead. With this new development, I am confident that member parties can work towards a common goal of inking the agreement by early 2020.”

Mr Ho added, “India continues to remain an important market and trade partner for Singapore, and we look forward to have India join the RCEP when India is ready. Singapore has strong business ties with India and we will continue to strengthen these links through our existing cooperative framework.

“Singapore’s trade value with the other 14 RCEP members has grown steadily over the past five years, reaching up to USD393 billion in 20183. The agreement presents enormous opportunities for our businesses and will significantly boost our region’s growth prospects. SBF will work closely with the Government to raise awareness of the agreement among our businesses so that they can leverage the benefits of the agreement for growth.”

Companies that wish to find out more about SBF’s upcoming FTA events and activities can contact the FTA Education & Outreach team at .

1 Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
2 ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Japan, ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
3 Source: UN Comtrade (

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