US ASEAN Business Council

Essay by duraiUniversity, Bachelor's May 2004

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Singapore is the largest U.S. trading partner within ASEAN, and is the largest destination within the ten-country grouping for U.S. direct investment. Singapore is the tenth largest U.S. export market worldwide. With a population of four million, Singapore purchases one and a half times more U.S. exports than China, four times more than India, and more than most European markets, including Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. At the end of 1999, U.S. direct investment in Singapore stood at more than US$24 billion, primarily in high-tech manufacturing and services industries.

Beyond the direct beneficial impact a bilateral agreement will have on the parties to it, we believe the FTA will serve as an important building block for wider initiatives, such as the P-5, a US-ASEAN FTA and a new WTO round, and serve as a model for these and other possible Bilateral FTAs. The announcement of the opening of negotiations between Chile and the US on an FTA is directly attributable to the movement on USSFTA.

These two sets of negotiations, along with Singapore's FTA initiatives with Australia and New Zealand, bodes particularly well for the future of a P-5 Agreement.

The USSFTA will serve as a precedent on many trade issues. Care should be taken to ensure it is a first-class model. In part because of the strategic impact that we hope an FTA Singapore will have on the U.S. trade agenda, we are concerned about efforts to include in the FTA binding labor and environment provisions. The inclusion of such measures in trade agreements is a highly controversial subject. We urge the USTR to work with business to find a workable position on this issue that will lead to bi-partisan agreement and eventual passage in Congress.

Specific to the substantial direct potential benefits of a USSFTA, there are several issues...