Chapter 12: The Singapore–Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA): Motivations and Implications for the Asia-Pacific Economies
12. The Singapore–Australia free trade agreement (SAFTA): motivations and implications for the Asia-Paciﬁc economies Rahul Sen INTRODUCTION Singapore’s economic performance over the past three decades has been enviable, with its economy registering one of the highest rates of growth in the world.1 It was counted among the few stories of economic success in Asia during the later part of the previous century, with its economy evolving into a modern city-state economy from a modest trading post in just about four decades. Being a manufacturing and trading hub for Southeast Asia, Singapore remains one of the most open economies in the region with a trade to GDP ratio of over 250 per cent in recent years (World Bank 2003). It is thus not surprising that its international trade policy remains the cornerstone in deﬁning the shape of Singapore’s economic success, and that Singapore policymakers have been consciously attempting to ﬁnd ways and means towards achieving freer trade in East Asia. In recent years, following the aftermath of the East Asian crisis in 1997–1998, and its resultant adverse impact on trade and liberalization eﬀorts within ASEAN as well as APEC, Singapore’s economic performance has been adversely aﬀected, and its ability to sustain global competitiveness is now challenged by several factors. These include an increased reliance on the electronics industry for its growth, its erstwhile excessive dependence on the region for its growth prospects and the increasing ability of its regional rivals to compete for global investments,...
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