WTO members consider EU-Japan, Turkey-Singapore trade agreementsChristian Fernsby ▼ | November 13, 2019
The European Union and Japan presented WTO members with the details of their new Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force on 1 February 2019, at an meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA).
World WTO’s Committee on Regional Trade Agreements
Topics: WTO Japan Turkey Singapore
The presentations were made as part of the WTO's Transparency Mechanism for RTAs.
Under this process, members notify the WTO about their RTAs and the agreements are discussed by the wider WTO membership on the basis of a factual presentation prepared by the WTO Secretariat.
The EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) establishes a free trade area for trade in goods and services.
The agreement also contains provisions related to government procurement, investment liberalization, intellectual property, competition policy, subsidies, state-owned enterprises, regulatory cooperation, trade and sustainable development, cooperation in the field of agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises, and a dispute settlement mechanism.
Representatives from the EU and Japan told the CRTA that the EPA is not only important for themselves but for the multilateral trading system as a whole.
Japan in particular said the agreement "demonstrates our firm political will to keep the flag of free and fair trade waving high".
Japan said it expected the agreement to boost its GDP by 1 per cent and to boost domestic employment by 0.5 per cent.
The EU said the deal substantially liberalizes trade between the two, with 94 per cent of Japan's duties on EU imports having been eliminated from 1 February and a further 3 per cent of tariff lines partially liberated through quotas.
The EU for its part is liberalizing 99 per cent of its tariff lines, with trade in autos to be fully liberalized within seven years.
Both the EU and Japan noted that, in addition to liberalizing trade, the agreement reflects common values by addressing issues such as labour rights, safeguarding public services, data protection, corporate social responsibility, and the need to tackle climate change.
Several members thanked the EU and Japan for their presentation and for participating in the transparency exercise.
The Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement aims to liberalize and facilitate trade and investment between the two parties.
The agreement consists of 18 chapters, including trade in goods and services, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, customs and trade, electronic commerce, and government procurement.
Turkey told WTO members that its FTA with Singapore, the third in the region after deals with Malaysia and Korea, will lead to the gradual liberalization for all goods and services.
Duties on 8 per cent of tariff lines were eliminated immediately and will eventually increase to 95 per cent over 10 years.
The agreement with Singapore is the first concluded by Turkey covering government procurement, Turkey noted.
Singapore said the FTA has boosted economic ties between the two partners, with bilateral trade now exceeding $1 billion per year.
Singapore highlighted that the chapter on trade in services will open services markets in sectors such as retail business and construction, and that the deal ensures protection of investments.
Several members thanked Turkey and Singapore for responding to written questions about the FTA and for participating in the transparency exercise. ■