World Trade Organization
WTO Trade Policy Review of Singapore 2021 - Australia Statement
22 and 24 September 2021
1. Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in Singapore’s Trade Policy Review. We have a longstanding, close and comprehensive bilateral relationship with Singapore, anchored in trust and economic cooperation. The upgraded Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) (signed December 2017) forms the central pillar of our trade and economic relationship alongside the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) which underpins the entirety of our bilateral relationship.
2 Singapore is a substantial bilateral trading partner for Australia— our sixth largest trade relationship overall and the sixth-largest source of foreign investment in Australia.
3. Australia acknowledges Singapore’s commitment to an open global trade and investment regime and the importance it places on supporting and promoting free trade and open markets. The open, rules-based, multilateral trading system will be a critical component of global restoration and recovery as the world confronts and eventually transitions from the economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic. Australia commends Singapore’s own economic recovery.
4. Australia and Singapore are working together as long-time supporters of the WTO and share a commitment to transparency and the maintenance and strengthening of the multilateral trade system. We have worked together to advance many initiatives in the WTO aimed at liberalising and promoting global trade and its institutions. We commend Singapore’s role as co-convener, along with Australia and Japan, of the E-commerce Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) which is a crucial demonstration of the WTO’s responsiveness to modern trade realities and the effectiveness of the plurilateral negotiating model. In that light and noting the very considerable contribution of services to Singapore’s domestic economy and global trade, we are delighted by your announcement Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s decision to join the Services Domestic Regulation JSI. The initiative is gathering momentum and Singapore’s decision today offers it even further strong impetus. We also value Singapore’s participation in the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement as an example of its commitment to strengthening the multilateral trading system, and the positive engagement that Singapore is showing on issues such as restoring the two-tiered dispute settlement system and concluding the fish subsidies negotiations.
5. Australia continues to welcome Singapore’s commitment to bilateral trade liberalisation. The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) has been critical to the economic integration of our economies and continues to deliver real trade and investment outcomes, including professional services gains. Through the implementation of the Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), which upgraded the SAFTA E-Commerce Chapter, we are implementing strong digital trade rules and cooperation on emerging digital economy issues. Leveraging technological change and the trade opportunities it presents will make a valuable contribution to our countries’ economic recoveries from COVID19.
6. Australia would also like to acknowledge Singapore’s ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in April this year - a sign of Singapore’s continued progress towards regional trade liberalisation. We also commend its commitment to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and its commitment to the upgrade of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).
7. Australia would like to make specific mention of Singapore’s Green Plan as a core strategy to address climate change. The Plan promotes the adoption of clean energy technologies that are scalable and commercially competitive. Increasing trade in these technologies is a key channel through which the Plan will be realised. We are also pleased to be working with Singapore to negotiate a bilateral Green Economy Agreement (GEA), following on from our Low Emissions MOU. The GEA will complement the Green Plan and will be critically important in integrating our two economies in ways that increase our ability to act on climate change, including by developing relevant trade, industrial capacity and infrastructure.
8. Australia is also pleased to be working with Singapore in the WTO on efforts to liberalise environmental goods and services trade to foster diverse and resilient low emissions technology and facilitate climate change emissions abatement at a global level.
9. Australia has submitted several written questions for the TPR and we appreciate Singapore's prompt responses. We commend your efforts wish you a successful conclusion to this review process.