Singapore and Qatar close to ink FTA
11 June 2005
SINGAPORE — Singapore and Qatar are close to signing a free trade agreement after ending their final round of negotiations yesterday, the city-state’s trade ministry said.
Following a week of talks between officials, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister, Lim Hng Kiang, and Qatar’s Economy and Commerce Minister, Shaikh Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani, signed a declaration stating that negotiations had “been substantially concluded”.
“Officials on both sides will continue discussions to finalise the text of the agreement, which is expected to be completed shortly,” a statement said.
The agreement will “spur greater trade and investment linkages, as well as a closer relationship between the two countries”, it added.
Under the accord, both Singapore and Qatar will eliminate all duties on products entering each other’s countries.
“(It) is a comprehensive agreement that covers areas including trade in goods, trade in services, including financial services, e-commerce, investment, government procurement, customs and media cooperation,” the statement said.
The breakthrough on the free trade agreement came as Qatar’s Amir His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a visit here yesterday.
A statement released by Lee’s office said they agreed to form a joint ministerial committee “to discuss the details and oversee the implementation of bilateral cooperation between Qatar and Singapore.
“Prime Minister Lee and His Highness agreed that Singapore and Qatar can cooperate in many areas for the mutual benefit of the peoples of our two countries,” the statement said.
A pioneer in the field, Singapore has signed free trade deals with the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the European Free Trade Association, which groups Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Singapore also signed a free trade pact with Jordan last year, its first ever with a Middle East country.
Talks for similar pacts with several other Middle East nations, including Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait, are ongoing.