The Straits Times | 12 December 2020
Singapore plans to sign free trade agreement with Pacific Alliance in 2021
by Prisca Ang
SINGAPORE - Singapore is planning to sign a free trade agreement next year with the Pacific Alliance, which consists of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, after making significant progress on it.
After three years of negotiations, the Pacific Alliance-Singapore free trade agreement (PASFTA) has reached a "substantial conclusion", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s press secretary, Ms Chang Li Lin, in a statement on Friday night (Dec 11).
PM Lee attended the Pacific Alliance Summit for the first time on Friday, via video conference.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, PM Lee said that the PASFTA will enhance trade and deepen cooperation in areas like the digital economy, energy sector, and infrastructure.
“It is a strategic link between two prospering parts of the world. A signal that despite pressures from protectionism and pushback against globalisation, countries, governments and peoples on two sides of the Pacific want to reach out to one another, deepen relationships and work together for mutual benefit, and towards a better world for all,” said PM Lee.
In another Facebook post, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the agreement would enable greater economic links and opportunities between the countries and regions.
“Singapore is pleased to partner like-minded nations as we ensure an open and rules-based trading system,” he added.
He added that the agreement makes Singapore the first Associate State of the Pacific Alliance, a milestone that will deepen links and open up opportunities for people and businesses on both sides.
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera played host at the 15th Pacific Alliance Summit. Besides PM Lee, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Peru’s President Francisco Sagasti attended the event.
Singapore, Chile, Mexico and Peru are also part of another free trade agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The Pacific Alliance Summit is held annually among member states Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
The Latin American trade bloc makes up the eighth largest economy in the world. In 2019, Singapore’s total trade in goods with the Pacific Alliance was S$6.1 billion, which accounted for 33.2% of our total trade in goods with Latin America. Singapore has been invited to the summit as a Candidate Associate State of the Pacific Alliance.
Ms Chang said the progress on the PASFTA is welcome news, especially as many economies grapple with challenges brought by Covid-19.
"Strengthened economic links between Singapore and the Pacific Alliance across the Pacific Ocean will boost trade and investment, provide greater opportunities for our businesses and strengthen people-to-people ties between our two regions. We look forward to the signing of the PASFTA next year and to the deepening of economic ties."