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Taiwan and Singapore Heartened by Benefits from ASTEP

Apr 16, 2015 | By Ken Liu

The Bureau of Foreign Trade of Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) says both Taiwan and Singapore are heartened with the positive economic results brought by the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), particularly the benefits created for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The BOFT officials and their Singaporean counterparts met on Apr. 13 in the Merlion State to review the first time the agreement that was signed around one year ago.

The ASTEP is Taiwan's first economic cooperation agreement with a Southeast Asian nation, marking a significant step for Taiwan towards engaging in regional integration and connecting with Southeast Asia, the Asia Pacific region and beyond, according to the BOFT.

During the review meeting, representatives from both sides exchanged views on the implementation of all articles in the agreement and any changes realized in bilateral trade and investment as shown in the statistics. Also they discussed further cooperation on industry standards, regulation of product-of-origin, verification of authorized economic operator (AEO), and intellectual property.

The BOFT's statistics show that from May 2014 to January 2015, Taiwan's exports to Singapore increased 9 percent year on year to US$15.79 billion versus imports from the trade partner dropped 3.7 percent to US$6.24 billion, with total bilateral trade topping US$22.03 billion, rising 5 percent from the previous period.

As for bilateral investments, Singaporeans made 108 investments totaling US$406 million in Taiwan from May 2014 to February 2015, increasing US$188 million from the same period of 2014, compared to Taiwanese' 17 investments in Singapore totaling US$131 million, up US$44 million. 

The BOFT officials say the bureau will assist Taiwan's SMEs develop the Southeast Asian market using the ASTEP, as well as make the public and businesses in Taiwan aware of the benefits from economic cooperation agreements so as to boost their confidence to engage in regional economic integration in the face of various competition. Such strategy makes sense as Taiwan is seen to be marginalized amid China's continuing self-reliance with its government trying to shift from export-dependence to more heavily rely on service industries and domestic consumption; while its huge market, labor pool, capital-raising capacity overshadow Taiwan. In recent years, Taiwan has seen out-migration en masse of its traditional and ITC sectors to China to tap cheaper labor and manufacturing cost, with China having also become the island's biggest export destination. 


Status of Taiwan, Singapore Bilateral Trade in the 2010-2014 Period

       Value


Year
Taiwan's Exports to Singapore
Taiwan's Imports from Singapore
Value
YoY Change (%)
Value
YoY Change (%)
2010
US$12.10bn
+40.4
US$7.64bn
+58.8
2011
US$16.88bn
+39.5
US$7.95bn
+4.2
2012
US$20.09bn
+19.0
US$8.11bn
+1.9
2013
US$19.52bn
-2.8
US$8.54bn
+5.4
2014
US$20.56bn
+5.3
US$8.38bn
-1.9
Source: Customs Office, MOF


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