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Singapore FTA could be lavish feast

Focus Taiwan News Channel

Economic Daily News: Singapore FTA could be lavish feast

By Sofia Wu

12 August 2010

The proposed free trade (FTA) -like economic cooperation agreement with Singapore will not be a free lunch, but as long as Taiwan has the mettle to overhaul its economy, the deal could be a sumptuous feast.

Everybody knows Singapore is a free trade port that hardly imposes tariff barriers on merchandise flow and also keeps its service market largely open to foreign investors.

In negotiating an FTA with Taiwan, Singapore is very likely to ask Taiwan to offer its service providers similarly easy market access terms. Judging from its past FTA negotiations with other countries, Singapore will also demand its trading partners engage in regulatory reform and enhance transparency.

Taiwan should be prepared to take up all these challenges and treat them as a catalyst to modernize its economic and legal systems. Should that happen, Taiwan will be able to largely upgrade its administrative efficiency and economic competitiveness, and its future FTA negotiations with other countries will also be much easier.

If Taiwan can smoothly strike an FTA with Singapore and withstand the trying, market-opening test, it will gain easier access to other ASEAN member states and even engage in dialogue with the Trans-Pacific Partnership mechanism, in both of which Singapore plays a key role.