Singapore’s extensive free trade agreements (FTA) and transparent administrative system have been credited with accelerating the country’s transformation to a first-world economy.

The country’s 15 bilateral, 12 regional FTAs and digital economy agreements (DEAs) include some of the largest combined trade agreements in the ASEAN-China, ASEAN-India, and ASEAN-Hong Kong trade blocs—providing Singapore-based businesses with access to preferential markets, free or reduced import tariffs, as well as enhanced intellectual property regulations.

Key Takeaways

  • Singapore’s extensive network of free trade agreements (FTAs) and digital economy agreements (DEAs) provides businesses with access to preferential markets, reduced import tariffs, and enhanced intellectual property regulations, making it an attractive location for companies looking to expand into Southeast Asia and neighboring regions.
  • The country’s digital economy agreements (DEAs) aim to develop international frameworks to support cross-border digital trade and e-commerce, promoting greater cooperation in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and facilitating interoperability between digital systems to trial new technologies across different countries.
  • DEAs will enable businesses to streamline operations and improve access to markets through paperless trade, increased acceptance of e-payment solutions, enhanced accuracy and efficiency of commercial transactions, and the development of safe and secure digital identities.

Despite regional players maintaining strong FTA networks, they are not as extensive as Singapore’s. Due to these factors, the country will continue to be the default location for businesses seeking to expand into Southeast Asia and neighboring regions.

In addition to its extensive network of FTAs and DEAs, Singapore’s transparent administrative system has also played a crucial role in its transformation into a first-world economy. The government’s commitment to good governance and efficient regulations has fostered a favorable business environment, attracting both domestic and foreign investments.

Singapore’s bilateral FTAs cover a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, services, and agriculture. These agreements create opportunities for businesses to expand their market reach and tap into new consumer bases. By eliminating or reducing import tariffs, Singapore-based companies can benefit from cost savings and gain a competitive edge in international trade.

Moreover, the country’s regional FTAs provide access to vibrant and growing markets within the ASEAN region, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This allows businesses to capitalize on the immense potential of these markets, while also benefiting from the ease of doing business facilitated by harmonized regulations and customs procedures.

The digital economy agreements (DEAs) further enhance Singapore’s position as a global hub for technology and innovation. These agreements focus on fostering collaboration in areas such as e-commerce, digital payments, and data flows. By establishing international frameworks and interoperability standards, DEAs aim to facilitate seamless digital trade and promote cross-border innovation.

Singapore’s commitment to intellectual property protection is another critical aspect that attracts businesses to the country. Strong intellectual property regulations ensure that companies can safely and securely innovate, develop, and commercialize their creations. This encourages investment in research and development, driving technological advancements and economic growth.

As a result of its extensive FTA network, transparent administrative system, and robust intellectual property protection, Singapore continues to be the preferred choice for companies seeking to expand their presence in Southeast Asia and neighboring regions. With its strategic location, strong connectivity, and business-friendly environment, Singapore offers a solid foundation for companies to thrive and succeed in the global marketplace.

What are the types of FTAs?

There are two types of FTAs: bilateral (agreements between Singapore and a single trading partner) and regional (signed between Singapore and a group of trading partners).

Singapore’s Bilateral Free Trade Agreements
China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA)Peru-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PeSFTA)
European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA)Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)
India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)Singapore-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement (SCRFTA)
Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA)Singapore-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (SJFTA)
Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA)Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA)
New Zealand-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Partnership (ANZSCEP)Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA)
Panama-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA)United Kingdom-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (UKSFTA)
United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA) 
Singapore’s Regional Free Trade Agreements
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA)
ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Area (AHKFTA)ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA)
ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP)ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Area (AKFTA)
ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
EFTA-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (ESFTA)GCC-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA)
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPSEP)

In addition, Singapore has signed DEAs to promote digital trade and e-commerce, encouraging cooperation in areas like artificial intelligence and facilitating interoperability between digital systems.

These agreements aim to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global tech and e-commerce hub. DEAs also promote paperless trade, enhance cross-border payments, and improve the efficiency and reliability of commercial transactions. They also facilitate data flow, personal data protection, and the responsible use of artificial intelligence. Overall, Singapore’s extensive FTA and DEA network offers businesses opportunities to access markets, lower costs, and streamline operations in a secure manner.

How to apply for tariff concessions for exporting goods from Singapore

Once a Singaporean company has identified its target market, it can start applying for tariff concessions through the Enterprise Singapore website.

To apply for tariff concessions for exporting goods from Singapore, follow these steps:

  1. Research: Before applying for tariff concessions, it’s important to thoroughly research and understand the specific requirements and regulations of the target market. This includes identifying the applicable preferential trade agreement or free trade agreement that Singapore has with the importing country.
  2. Determine eligibility: Ensure that your company is eligible for tariff concessions under the specific free trade agreement or preferential trade agreement. Check the rules of origin criteria to confirm that your products meet the necessary criteria to qualify for tariff concessions.
  3. Prepare documentation: Gather all the required documentation for the application process. This typically includes details about the company, the products to be exported, and relevant certifications or proofs of origin.
  4. Apply through Enterprise Singapore: Visit the Enterprise Singapore website ( and navigate to the appropriate section for applying for tariff concessions. Follow the instructions provided and complete the application form accurately.
  5. Submit supporting documents: Attach all the necessary supporting documents to your application. This may include invoices, certificates of origin, product specifications, and any other relevant documentation specified by the importing country or the free trade agreement.
  6. Review and assessment: Once you have submitted your application, it will be reviewed and assessed by the relevant authority. The processing time may vary depending on the specific free trade agreement and the complexity of your application.
  7. Communication and follow-up: Stay in communication with the relevant authority to provide any additional information or clarification if required. Be prepared to respond to any inquiries or requests for further documentation promptly.
  8. Receive tariff concessions: If your application is successful, you will receive confirmation of the tariff concessions granted. This will enable you to export your goods to the target market at reduced or zero import tariffs, based on the terms of the specific free trade agreement.
  9. Compliance and reporting: It is important to comply with all the requirements and obligations outlined in the free trade agreement or preferential trade agreement. This may include periodic reporting or certification of origin for the exported goods.

By following these steps and leveraging the extensive network of free trade agreements that Singapore has established, your company can benefit from preferential market access, reduced tariffs, and enhanced trade facilitation, enabling you to expand your business into Southeast Asia and neighboring regions.

Main source :

An Overview of Singapore’s Free Trade Agreements (

About the author

ASEAN Briefing features business news, regulatory updates and extensive data on ASEAN free trade, double tax agreements and foreign direct investment laws in the region. Covering all ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam)

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