Singapore ratifies ASEAN trade in services deal

Singapore ratifies ASEAN trade in services deal

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  • The republic signed the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) on April 5; other ASEAN members expected to ratify pact within the year
  • The agreement will help strengthen services-related trading arrangements by further reducing “beyond-the-border” barriers
  • ATISA will benefit businesses and service suppliers in all sectors, including professional services, telecommunications, financial services, computer and related services, and distribution and logistics services
  • In 2019, services accounted for 50.6% of the region’s gross domestic product and was worth more than US$844.6 billion

Singapore ratified the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA) on April 5, the first of the ASEAN member states to do so. The ATISA is a regional initiative that seeks to further reduce intra-regional barriers and create a more stable and predictable environment for trade in services.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing had signed the ATISA in 2019 on the sidelines of the 25th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat. Singapore has since completed its domestic procedures to ratify the agreement and has notified the ASEAN Secretary General of the ratification.

With the ratification, Singapore’s rights and obligations under the ATISA have begun, while the other member states are continuing their internal procedures to ratify the ATISA within the year, MITI said.

Chan said, “Singapore’s ratification of the ATISA reflects our strong commitment to ASEAN and creates a more transparent, stable and predictable environment for trade in services in the region.”

He added that the agreement will help strengthen services-related trading arrangements among ASEAN members, “enabling ASEAN businesses to enjoy increased market access and reduced discriminatory regulatory barriers.”

The ATISA builds upon and enhances the existing ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) by further reducing “beyond-the-border” barriers, and sets the stage for further services integration and liberalization in the grouping in the future.

It provides a legally binding guarantee of the widest preferential services market access into ASEAN markets to date, beyond ASEAN’s existing agreements, including the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The members’ commitments include the reduction of discriminatory regulatory barriers and creation of a more transparent regime for ASEAN services suppliers.

Both the ATISA and AFAS are landmark agreements in bolstering trade in services in ASEAN. They are also long-standing initiatives that member states have pursued over the last few years.

The ATISA will benefit and improve business confidence for the region’s businesses and service suppliers in all sectors, including professional services, telecommunications, financial services, computer and related services, and distribution and logistics services, said MITI.

Services is an increasingly important sector in ASEAN economies, accounting for 50.6% of the region’s gross domestic product and worth more than US$844.6 billion in 2019.  

Once fully implemented, the ATISA will make up the third and final part of the “troika” of ASEAN agreements that seek to improve regional economic and sectoral integration, along with the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

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