Singapore Free Trade Agreement With Us

50. (back) The Information Technology Agreement, concluded in 1996 by 29 WTO participants, eliminated tariffs on most computer products with extended periods of time for some participants. Singapore has implemented a free trade agreement with New Zealand (applicable from 1 January 2001) and with the European Free Trade Area (with effect from 1 January 2003, which includes Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) and concluded a free trade agreement with Japan in January 2002 excluding agricultural products. The country also concluded FTA negotiations with Australia (signed on 17 February 2003) and negotiated with Mexico (started in July 2000) and Canada (started in October 2001) and established a task force on 14 November 2002 to study a free trade agreement with South Korea. The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement states that both sides must ensure that their domestic environmental legislation ensures a high level of environmental protection and strive to further improve these laws. The agreement also requires the parties to effectively impose their own national environmental laws. With regard to labour standards, both parties must also reaffirm their obligations as members of the International Labour Organization. They must ensure that their national laws provide for labour standards in line with internationally recognised labour principles. The agreement also obliges the parties to effectively enforce their own national labour and environmental laws.

These obligations must be enforceable through the dispute settlement procedures of the agreement, but with (limited) fines for non-compliance. Labour interests point out that while the Singapore Agreement obliges signatories to enforce their national labour laws, they do not oblige signatories to legislate on labour or to ensure that their labour laws comply with international standards or an international floor. (53) In June 2003, the USA was published by the International Trade Commission (ITC), which published the results of its investigation into the likely economic effects of a free trade agreement between the USA and Singapore. (10) It concluded that the macroeconomic impact of tariff reductions under free trade agreements on US trade, production and economic well-being was likely to be negligible to very small. . . .

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