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 Home > News & Policies > July 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 15, 2003

Message to the Congress of the United States


I am pleased to transmit legislation and supporting documents to implement the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Agreement will further open Singapore's markets and increase competition and consumer choice. This is America's first FTA with an Asian-Pacific nation, and we hope it will serve as a benchmark for future free trade agreements with other nations in the region. The Agreement will enhance prosperity in the United States and Singapore, serve the interest of expanding U.S. commerce, and advance our overall national interest.

My Administration is strongly committed to securing a level playing field for Americas workers, farmers, and businesses. The Congress helped advance that policy by passing Trade Promotion Authority in the Trade Act of 2002 (the "Trade Act"). The Congress can help us take another important step by approving this Agreement and the implementing legislation. Without this Agreement, U.S. workers and businesses could be placed at a competitive disadvantage, because Singapore has signed or is currently working on free trade agreements with Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and India.

In negotiating this FTA, my Administration was guided by the negotiating objectives set out in the Trade Act. The Agreement locks in tariff-free access for all U.S. goods, including textile and agriculture products, and addresses other barriers to trade. It opens opportunities for our services businesses, which now account for nearly 65 percent of our gross domestic product and more than 80 percent of employment in the United States. Through this FTA, Singapore will grant substantial additional market access to U.S. firms across a broad spectrum of services, including banking, insurance, securities and related financial services, express delivery services, professional services, and tele-communications. The Agreement also incorporates commitments on regulatory transparency that will be of special help to services business.

This Agreement provides state-of-the-art intellectual property protection, including significant commitments on trade in digital products. It ensures that electronic commerce will stay free of duties and discriminatory rules. In addition, Singapore will accede to international treaties dealing with copyright and access issues for the Internet.

United States citizens and businesses that invest in Singapore will have significant increased protections. This Agreement enhances transparency and openness in order to foster a more secure environ-ment for trade and investment. Furthermore, Singapore will provide U.S. investors with important substantive protections that Singaporean investors already enjoy in the United States.

Singapore and the United States have also agreed to cooperate on the environment and labor issues and to establish mechanisms to support those efforts. The FTA obligates each country to enforce its own labor and environmental laws and makes clear that domestic labor or environmental protections may not be reduced in order to encourage trade or investment. The Agreement also preserves our right to pursue other legitimate domestic objectives, including the protection of health and safety, consumer interests, and national security.

Trade and openness contribute to development, the rule of law, economic growth, and international cooperation. Singapore is a close partner of the United States, and this Agreement will strengthen those ties.

With the approval of this Agreement and passage of the implementing legislation by the Congress, we will advance U.S. economic, security, and political interests, while encouraging others to work with us to expand free trade around the world.

July 15, 2003.

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