The recently signed free trade agreement between Turkey and Singapore is unlikely to be a turning point for the global economy, but both countries appear to have high expectations. Turkey negotiates and concludes free trade agreements with third countries in parallel with the global trend towards free trade agreements and its commitment to the customs union. Under the EU common tariff, preferential trade regimes are the most important part of trade policy towards third countries. Prime Minister Yildirim said bilateral trade was on the rise and he was confident that the free trade agreement would lead to an increase in trade volumes between the two countries. If this can be achieved, it will also give substance to Turkey`s stated desire to become an ASEAN partner, whether in the form of a dialogue partner, observer or cooperation partner. Improved economic relations between Turkey and Singapore, not only in merchandise trade, but especially in the form of economic transactions that establish long-term partnerships, such as foreign direct investment, will support Turkey`s right to partnership with ASEAN. TRSFTA is the second free trade agreement between Turkey and a Southeast Asian country after Mit Malaysia, which came into force earlier this year. According to a list published on the website of the Turkish Ministry of Economy, “attempts are underway to begin negotiations” with Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and these agreements will be crucial to the development of Turkey`s position vis-à-vis ASEAN and Southeast Asia in general. Turkey can become an ASEAN dialogue partner, but it must first become a good trading partner.
The Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) is a comprehensive agreement that includes not only bilateral tariff liberalization, but also the removal of non-tariff barriers, facilitation of reciprocal access to service sectors and public procurement. Turkey will eliminate tariffs on Singapore`s exports on more than 95% of all tariff lines, while Singapore will grant duty-free access to all Turkish products. In the meantime, the two countries have also agreed to introduce international standards and practices to reduce non-tariff barriers. Turkish companies can place orders through the Singapore government and Singapore companies have the same access to Turkish tenders. In addition, the agreement will also facilitate access to retail, business and construction services for both parties. TRSFTA seems to be the appropriate recipe, as Singapore is the most appropriate partner in the region to form an economic axis. It`s not because Turkey and Singapore have a huge volume of trade – they don`t have it.