GCC- Singapore FTA will Further Enhance Synergistic Opportunities Between Both Blocs

Doha Bank hosted a knowledge sharing session on “New World order and opportunities” at The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore on 11th July 2014. It was well attended by bankers and representatives of corporates from large and medium scale industrial groups ,doing business in GCC and interested to explore business in GCC also participated in the event. Doha Bank was also named the ‘Best Domestic Retail Bank’ and the ‘Best Domestic Trade finance Bank’ of the year in Qatar at The Asian Banking and Finance Awards Ceremony held on 10th July 2014 in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

Speaking at the knowledge sharing session Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the key developments impacting global economy. He said “The Global financial architecture has underwent a change after the crisis. Globalisation, technology, consumerism and Regulation are the key forces which drive the change in Global economy. According to IMF April 2014, the world economy is expected to grow at 3.6% in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015. Key drivers in advanced economies are a reduction in fiscal tightening, except in Japan, and still highly accommodative monetary conditions. Emerging economies growth will be helped by stronger external demand from advanced economies, but tighter financial conditions will dampen domestic demand growth.”

Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insights on Global trade and Investment. He said “According to WTO Global trade increased by 2.1% in 2013 and Asia’s exports grew faster than any other region’s last year, with a 4.6% rise. The value of Global merchandise trade in 2013 exceeded $18 trillion. World trade is expected to grow by a modest 4.7% in 2014. According to UNCTAD report Global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows rose by 9% in 2013, to an estimated US$1.45 trillion. Developing Asia continues to be the region with the highest FDI inflows.”

Dr.R.Seetharaman gave his outlook on Singapore economy. He said “Singapore’s economy expanded 4.9% in the first quarter of 2014 over the same period last year. Singapore’s consumer prices rose by 2.7% yoy in May 2014.Bank loans in Singapore continued to ease in May 2014, despite a boost from business loans. Building and construction loans accelerated to 10.3% yoy till May 2014 but manufacturing loans headed the other direction and contracted by 8.0% yoy till May2014. Consumer loans eased to 6.6% yoy till May 2014.”

Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the bilateral trade developments between GCC and Singapore. He said “ GCC – Singapore trade has surged from S$43.6 billion in 2010 to S$ 68.5 billion in 2012 and dropped to S$ 63.5 Billion Imports had arose from S$8.4Bn in 2012 to S$9.6 Bn in 2013. Exports had fallen from S$60.1 billion in 2012 to S$53.9 billion in 2013 contributing to the fall in overall trade. Exports had fallen mainly from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. “

Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insight on GCC- Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA).He said “The GSFTA has come into force on 1 September 2013 and approximately 95 percent of all GCC tariff lines will qualify for tariff-free concessions. An additional 2.7 percent of tariff lines will qualify for the same tariff-free concessions by 2018.The GSFTA allows Singapore-based companies, Singapore nationals and permanent residents to hold majority stakes in key sectors of the GCC markets “

Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insights on major bilateral developments between GCC and Singapore. He said “Saudi Arabia is the third largest source of investments from the Middle East to Singapore. The number of Saudi companies that have a presence in Singapore has been growing steadily over the years. Singapore and Saudi Arabian businesses will enjoy a range of new tax reductions or exemptions under the new Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement which came into effect in 1st July 2011.Singapore’s expertise in water treatment technologies and alternative utilisation of treated effluents can attract UAE companies in Singapore. Singapore’s reputation for food safety and quality can attract UAE food manufacturing and procurement companies to base their operations in Singapore. “

Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted the bilateral developments between Qatar and Singapore. He said “The year 2014 is the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Qatar. Singaporean and Qatari companies will now be able to play an increasing role in the Qatar’s development on account of GSFTA.There are areas such as telecommunications, electrical and electronic equipment, petrochemicals, jewellery, machinery and iron and steel-related industries in which Qatari and Singaporean businesses can establish and enhance cooperation to facilitate bilateral trade relations. Singapore has emerged as a strategically important hub for Qatar’s LNG exports to the region.”

In his concluding remarks Dr. R. Seetharaman said “The GSFTA will further enhance synergistic opportunities between GCC and Singapore in the coming years.”