These agreements are part of the instruments for creating the free trade area and are governed by the disciplines applicable to trade in goods in the main agreement. They are providing concessions on both sides. Each agreement contains specific rules of origin, usually based on “fully preserved” criteria. The parties agree to apply their health and plant health rules in a non-discriminatory manner and not to introduce new measures that cause excessive trade obstruction. Since the signing of its first asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) free trade agreement in 1993, Singapore`s network of free trade agreements has expanded to 18 regional and bilateral free trade agreements with 24 trading partners. Singapore`s free trade agreements have played a major role in Singapore-based companies strengthening cross-border trade by removing or reducing import tariffs, preferential access to services, facilitating investment rules, improving intellectual property rules and opening up public procurement. In addition, trade in agricultural commodities is covered by three bilateral agreements on basic agricultural products negotiated between the state of EFTA concerned (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland/Liechtenstein) and Singapore. Investment protection disciplines are consistent with those typically found in bilateral investment protection agreements, including provisions on promotion and protection, national salaries and MFN, taxation, expropriation and compensation, national regulation, transfers and key personnel. The agreement also provides for the possibility of a direct settlement of disputes between one party and an investor of another. These disputes may be subject to binding arbitration proceedings, provided both parties agree. Reservations about the chapter are contained in Appendix XI. There are two types of free trade agreements: bilateral (agreements between Singapore and a single trading partner) and regional agreements (signed between Singapore and a group of trading partners).
A free trade agreement is a legally binding agreement between two or more countries to reduce or remove barriers to trade and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the parties` territories. Intellectual property protection provisions include patents, trademarks, copyrights and geographical indications. The RCEP establishes a modern, comprehensive, quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on ASEAN`s existing bilateral agreements with its five partners in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The RCEP, which accounts for about 30% of the world`s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for nearly one-third of the world`s population, is the world`s largest free trade agreement to date. As an important regional agreement, the Singapore RCEP will complement the existing network of free trade agreements, expand our economic space and stimulate trade and investment flows. The country`s 13 bilateral free trade agreements and 11 regional free trade agreements include some of the largest combined trade agreements in the ASEAN-China, ASEAN-India and ASEAN-Hong Kong trading blocs, which give Singapore-based companies access to preferential markets, free or reduced import duties, and improved intellectual property rules.