Bilateral “WTO-Plus” Free Trade Agreements: The WTO Trade Policy Review of Singapore 2004
S.M. Thangavelu and
Toh Mun Heng
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S.M. Thangavelu: Department of Economics, National University of Singapore
Toh Mun Heng: Department of Business Policy, National University of Singapore
SCAPE Policy Research Working Paper Series from National University of Singapore, Department of Economics, SCAPE
The World Trade Organisation’s 2004 Trade Policy Review of Singapore (WTO-TPR Singapore 2004) depicts the small and outward-oriented economy as one of the most open country to international trade and investment. The review highlights the benefits of the outward-oriented strategy that has enabled the Singapore economy to weather recent external shocks such as the Asian financial crisis to the SARS and to the recent unfavourable conditions in the Middle East. In particular, the report commended Singapore’s efforts on its liberalization of the services sector and its economic benefits to consumers and global trade. However, the WTO-TPR Singapore 2004 highlights several key areas of concerns: (a) the commitment to multilateral agreements with the rising number of bilateral free trade agreements signed by Singapore and (b) the lack of growth of total factor productivity, a key indicator for long-run efficiency of the economy. The paper addresses the above key concerns raised in the WTO’s TPR of Singapore in terms of its commitment to global trade in terms of WTO-plus bilateral FTAs, which intends to support multilateral trading system, and its overall industrial strategies to raise its competitiveness.
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