Gulf Times, Qatar
GCC and Singapore to sign FTA deal
12 December 2008
By Pratap John
The GCC countries and Singapore are expected to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) in Doha in the next few days.
It will be the first FTA concluded by the GCC outside the Middle East and the second the City-State signs with Middle Eastern economies, sources said yesterday.
The FTA would be signed during the next week’s visit to Doha by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong.
Singapore’s deputy head of mission in Doha, Ken Siah said the GCC-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA) would be a “milestone agreement” in strengthening ties between the GCC countries and Singapore, particularly because it is the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by the GCC.
The GCC was Singapore’s sixth largest trading partner in 2007, with bilateral trade reaching a record high of S$42.4bn in 2007.
Total exports including domestic exports and re-exports to the GCC were worth an estimated S$7.5bn, while the GCC exported S$34.8bn worth of goods to Singapore.
This is an increase of 127% since 2002. Singapore’s cumulative investments in the GCC totalled S$357mn in 2006.
In an interview with Gulf Times in Singapore in March this year the City State’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan had said, “I am confident the FTA between Singapore and the Gulf bloc would be signed in 2008. We have completed the bilateral talks on the FTA with the GCC Secretariat in January and are now going through the procedural legal issues. Our negotiations on the FTA began in early 2007. It would significantly boost bilateral trade between Singapore and the Gulf countries.”