Since Singapore is a free port, SAFTA emphasizes the guarantee of liberal access conditions for many Australian service providers such as exporters of legal, financial and educational services. Safta also contains more flexible rules of origin that will make it easier for Singapore`s exports to Australia to qualify for duty-free treatment. It also removes regulatory barriers to trade in products such as distilled wine and spirits, cosmetics, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Singapore is one of the world`s most prosperous countries and Australia`s largest trading and investment partner in Southeast Asia. SAFTA offers a wide range of Australian exporters greater opportunities in goods and services, further strengthens trade and investment relations, eliminates Singapore tariffs and offers Australian companies cheaper inputs for a number of products. Bilateral trade between the two countries has steadily increased over the years, reaching $18.2 billion in 2016, according to MTI. Australia was Singapore`s 13th largest trading partner in 2016, while Singapore was Australia`s seventh largest trading partner. The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which came into force in July 2003, is a comprehensive agreement that gives Australia deeper and broader results than the World Trade Organization (WTO) in services trade, intellectual property, investment and competition policy. Turnbull`s government has submitted a comprehensive update of Australia`s second oldest free trade agreement, providing significant opportunities for Australian service providers. Today, with my Singaporean counterpart Lim Hng Kiang, I signed an agreement amending the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).
This agreement is an important part of Australia`s overall strategic partnership with Singapore. Austrade can help Australian companies become familiar with local market conditions and help develop export opportunities through a number of market and Australian services. Key benefits include updating trade rules for products, improving opportunities for procurement firms, improving access to other countries` services, and making investment more attractive. In addition, there is better mobility for businessmen and rules to facilitate trade in the digital economy. In addition to existing duty-free products, the updated rules of origin will simplify management and reduce compliance costs for operators using the agreement. Among the benefits, Singapore companies can tender with the Australian federal government and the eight Australian states and territories as part of the enhanced Safta.