Upgraded Singapore agreement brings benefits for Kiwi business

An upgraded free trade agreement with Singapore will make it easier for New Zealanders to visit and do business in South East Asia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

Singapore is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in the region, with NZ$4.9 billion of two-way trade and $5.1 billion of two-way direct investment in the year ending June 2018.

Negotiations have now concluded on modernising the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) with Singapore which smooths the way for New Zealand companies to explore further export opportunities in the city-state.

New Zealand visitors to Singapore will gain visa-free entry for three months – up from the current one month – and companies with offices in Singapore will be able to send employees to work there for up to eight years, up from five years.

“New Zealand’s relationship with Singapore is our closest in South East Asia. As small advanced economies we share an interest in maintaining international trade rules. As such our shared commitment to upgrading our free trade agreement is more important than ever,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“This upgrade makes it easier for New Zealanders to do business in Singapore. In the year to June 2018, 24,280 New Zealanders travelled to Singapore including 6400 who travelled for business. Being able to stay longer is another way of helping Kiwi businesses explore new opportunities in South East Asia.

“Today’s announcement marks the first step towards the launch of a broader Enhanced Partnership with Singapore that will be launched next year. It will see even greater co-operation between our two countries across trade, science, innovation, the environment, education, the arts, security and defence.

“We look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Lee to New Zealand next year for the launch of our Enhanced Partnership, and the signing of the upgraded CEP.,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The original CEP was signed in 2000, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said.

“Since then, we have negotiated three other free trade agreements together, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The importance of these agreements has grown over recent months with the escalation of protectionist measures around the world.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released the text of the upgrade, and a National Interest Analysis, which assesses the likely costs and benefits for New Zealand of entering into the Agreement.

These documents and information on the New Zealand Singapore Closer Economic Partnership are available at www.mfat.govt.nz.