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Singapore and Turkey sign comprehensive free trade agreement

Antalya, Turkey

SINGAPORE and Turkey signed their third trade agreement on Saturday, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Antalya.

The Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA), when in force after ratification within two years, will eliminate tariffs for Singapore's exports to Turkey on 80 per cent of all tariff lines. This coverage will rise to more than 95 per cent of all tariff lines over a period of 10 years.

The TRSFTA - Turkey's first comprehensive agreement in a single undertaking - was signed by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Turkey's Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is in Turkey to attend the G20 Summit this weekend, witnessed the signing with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two leaders had earlier met for a bilateral meeting to reaffirm ties and explore further areas of cooperation.

Said the Ministry of Trade and Industry in a press release: "Singapore exporters, including exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food products, will benefit from the removal of Turkey's tariffs under Rules of Origin that take into account Singapore's unique regional supply chain and local production processes."

The TRSFTA will also help more Singapore companies to leverage Turkey's strategic location as a gateway to Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At present, there are about 10 Singapore companies in Turkey, including PSA, Temasek Holdings, ST Electronics, Surbana Jurong, and The Ascott.

Singapore's stock of direct investment abroad in Turkey as of 2013 was S$345 million.

In addition, the new agreement will encourage more Turkish firms to use Singapore as a base. There are already 67 Turkish companies in Singapore, including GenPower, Turkey's largest diesel and gasoline generator manufacturer, and Milli Reasurans, a reinsurance company.

Singapore has two other existing trade agreements with Turkey - the Singapore-Turkey Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) signed in 2008, and the Singapore-Turkey Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) signed in 1999.

Singapore's trade with Turkey has consistently crossed S$1 billion since 2007, although in 2014, total bilateral trade dropped 10 per cent year-on-year to S$1.21 billion.