The GCC-Singapore FTA (GSFTA) was signed in Doha, Qatar on 15 December 2008. It is a milestone agreement in strengthening ties between the GCC countries and Singapore, particularly because it is the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by the GCC and the second FTA that Singapore will be signing with the Middle East.
The Agreement is a comprehensive one that includes Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures, Trade in Services and Government Procurement.
Key Clauses of the Agreement
The GSFTAs Trade in Goods arrangements allows the GCC goods full duty-free access to Singapore market. The GSFTA also qualify 99% of Singaporean domestic exports to the GCC for tariff-free concessions. Some of the remaining goods shall maintain the base rates for five years from the date of entry into force of this Agreement. Thereafter, such goods shall be allowed import into the GCC free of customs duties The rest of the goods shall not enjoy any elimination or reduction of customs duties under the Agreement.
Key GCC sectors benefitting include petrochemicals, jewellery, machinery and iron and steel-related industry.
Rules of Origin:
For GSFTA, goods shall be deemed as originating goods of a Party and shall be eligible for preferential treatment provided are wholly obtained or produced in the territory of the exporting Party; or have undergone sufficient working or production. A good is considered to have undergone sufficient working or production in the territory of a Party if the good
- satisfies the product-specific rules of origin for the products specified in Annex 3; or
- attains a qualifying value added of not less than thirty five percent (35%) based on the ex-works price.
A proof of origin in the form of a certification of origin is required for goods to be eligible for the preferential treatment provided for by the Agreement. The certification of origin will be issued by the competent authority of each Party.
In order to facilitate trade, each Party shall provide for the issuance of written advance rulings as to whether the good qualifies as an originating good. This will be undertaken within 60 days from the date of receipt of an application for an advance ruling. The competent authority shall establish a validity period for an advance ruling of not less than two years from the date of its issuance.
Mutual Recognition Arrangement:
The GSFTA shall strengthen co-operation in the field of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures, with a view to increasing the mutual understanding of their respective systems and facilitating access to their respective markets.
When a Party assesses that another Party has taken measures which have created an obstacle to trade, the Parties shall agree to hold consultations within the framework of the Joint Committee in order to find an appropriate solution.
With respect to sanitary and phytosanitary measures, the Parties shall exchange names and addresses of their official contact points in order to facilitate technical consultations and the exchange of information.
Trade in Services:
The trade in services Chapter will provide the GCC service suppliers enhanced business opportunities in Singapore.
The GSFTA builds on the commitments made by Singapore and the GCC countries at the multilateral level, in particular, the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Specifically, Singapore and the GCC have committed to liberalise various services sectors beyond its WTO commitments. The GCC countries will enjoy preferential access in the following services sectors.
- Business services: professional services, computer and related services, rental and others
- Communication services
- Construction and related engineering services
- Distribution services
- Educational services
- Environmental services
- Financial services
- Health related and social services
- Recreational, cultural and sporting services
- Transport services
The United Arab Emirates will relax foreign equity limits in construction services, distribution services, hospital services and legal advisory services.
The above benefits will extend to the citizens, Permanent Residents, local companies as well as multinational companies (MNCs) based in Singapore or the GCC.
Movement of Natural Persons:
The GSFTA provides rights and obligations to facilitate the movement of natural persons engaged in the conduct of trade and investment between the Parties. A natural person of a Party means a natural person who is a national or permanent resident of a GCC Member State or Singapore, according to their respective legislation. Presence of foreign natural persons as self-employers is not allowed.
The GCC and Singapore have committed to maintaining an open and transparent system of procurement. It incorporates the principles and practices of the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) at WTO level to give competitive opportunities to the suppliers of both sides to penetrate each other’s market.
During a period of 10 years, the GCC suppliers will enjoy a price preference of 10% that is given to the GCC domestic suppliers for the use of any goods or services that is produced in the GCC State for the procurement of goods and services listed in the Annexes to the Government Procurement Chapter
Suppliers can apply only to Government procurements of goods, services and construction services that that equal or exceeds certain threshold limits .
The GCC and Singapore have negotiated a comprehensive set of dispute settlement procedures. Disputes are subject to consultations, negotiations, conciliation and arbitration just like in the WTO, thereby enhancing the rule of law in international trade. The Parties shall endeavour to resolve any dispute arising from this Agreement through consultations with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution.