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U.S. Statement on the Trade Policy Review of Singapore
July 24, 2012

Statement delivered by David Shark,
Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the WTO

July 24, 2012

Thank you, Chair.  The United States is pleased to participate in Singapore’s sixth Trade Policy Review not only because of Singapore’s longstanding support for the multilateral trading system, but also because Singapore is such an important trading partner.  The U.S. delegation warmly welcomes Mrs. Ow Foong Pheng, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the rest of the visiting Singaporean delegation, as well as Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng and the Geneva delegation.  I would also thank Ambassador Adank (New Zealand) for his contributions as discussant.

The Secretariat’s report is as informative and comprehensive as always.  The government of Singapore’s report reminded us of your commitment to an open trade policy.

As we did in 2008, the United States applauds Singapore’s demonstrated commitment to opening markets for trade, development, and economic opportunity.  Singapore remains one of the most steadfastly open economies in the world and its consistent efforts to open markets through multilateral, regional, and bilateral initiatives have enhanced its own competitiveness and that of its trading partners.  As the government’s report aptly notes, the period under review was marked by ‘an unprecedented global economic crisis’ and Singapore – a small and open economy – was by no means spared from these challenges.  Nevertheless, Singapore’s economy grew at an annual rate of 6 percent per year during the period under review.  This growth was the result of responsible management of the macro economy as well as significant contributions from transport and wholesale trade activities, reflecting the resiliency of Singapore as a major transshipment hub.  The United States notes the significant work that has been undertaken since the last review by Singapore to further increase its efficiency as an open trading hub.  Efforts to improve trade facilitation include Singapore’s establishment of a single window for customs processing and recent initiatives such as providing for binding advance rulings on customs valuation.

As the Secretariat’s report clearly describes, Singapore’s deep integration into the global economy has helped it become a prosperous nation, with per capita GDP estimated at around US$50,000 in 2011, an increase of 29 percent since 2008.  Singapore’s openness, with an estimated trade to GDP ratio of 400 percent, remains a defining characteristic.  Singapore has now turned its efforts and policy focus to further improving its productivity and enhancing its competitiveness, particularly as it faces the challenges brought about by the slowing growth of its workforce.  Policies that support human capital development such as continuing education programs, along with Singapore’s efforts to invest in research, innovation and enterprise will certainly contribute support to its broader efforts to further improve its competitiveness and enhance productivity.

Turning to our bilateral trade and investment relationship, we are proud to point to the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as the first comprehensive U.S. FTA with an Asian nation.  This FTA has been in force since January 1, 2004.

Singapore – U.S. two-way trade in goods totaled $50.3 billion in 2011.  In 2011, the United States was Singapore’s fifth largest export market taking 5.4% of Singapore’s exports.  In that same year, the United States was also Singapore’s second largest supplier with nearly 11 percent of its total imports coming from the United States.  Two-way trade in services was $14.9 billion in 2011.  U.S. foreign direct investment to Singapore was $106 billion in 2010, an increase of more than 19 percent from levels in 2009.

In addition to our strong bilateral relationship, the United States and Singapore continue to deepen cooperation in a broad range of fora both within the region and multilaterally.  The United States is very pleased to be working closely with Singapore to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will not only deepen and strengthen our bilateral trade and investment linkages, but will also serve to establish a high-standard regional trade agreement that will address new and emerging trade issues and 21st-century challenges.

The United States welcomes Singapore’s continued commitment to a fair, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trade system.  We share Singapore’s belief that the WTO remains an important platform from which we can ensure continued growth for all economies.  We further agree that the WTO’s role is critical, both as a guardian against protectionism, and as a catalyst to promote growth and development.  Now is as important a time as ever to uphold our shared support for the multilateral trading system and the stability and predictably provided by the WTO.

The United States is also very appreciative of the strong support Singapore provided during the U.S. APEC host year in 2011, which contributed to the meaningful and significant outcomes achieved last year when APEC Leaders met in Honolulu, Hawaii.  This year we are continuing to work closely with Singapore and other APEC member economies to build on these outcomes. The United States also acknowledges the important role Singapore plays within the ASEAN regional group and together we work closely to support greater regional integration and strengthen important trade and investment linkages between the United States and the ASEAN economies.

While our overall relationship remains strong, the United States does have concerns that Singapore continues to restrict the importation of certain beef and beef products from the United States, even though the United States is considered a “controlled risk” country by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).  We ask Singapore to bring their sanitary measures in line with the OIE guidelines or provide the United States with a copy of its risk assessment at this TPR to support these restrictions under the WTO SPS Agreement.

In closing, we wish Singapore a successful review, and we look forward to further cooperation with Singapore, both here at the WTO and in our bilateral exchanges.  We also look forward to continuing our work with Singapore and our other trading partners to support the multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO, allowing trade and investment opportunities to expand.

Thank you.