Monday, April 25, 2005

The FTA'ed World

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, speaking in Bandung, Indonesia, has said that a Singapore/India Closer Economic Cooperation Agreement is due to be complete within a month. [Source: Reuters, 25/04/2005]

As is obvious from the website of the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, this is merely one of the many free trade agreements in progress; and a number have already been signed, notably with the USA, Japan, and the European Free Trade Association.

This sort of bilateral agreements have gradually become more popular, in spite of claims that they have serious negative effects on any multilateral trade agreements. (e.g. under the WTO) The fact is that they provide some immediate benefit, and those multilateral trade agreements seem unlikely to be agreed upon in any foreseeable timeframe. Any prudent country would try to gain that benefit, and Singapore's speed is commendable.