US electrical industry welcomes conclusion of US-Singapore free trade agreement negotiations

May 9, 2003 – Rosslyn, VA – The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is hailing the signing by President Bush and Prime Minister Goh of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and is urging the US Congress to quickly ratify it.

“We very much welcome free trade agreements such as this that serve to expand the benefits of trade liberalization to all parties,” said NEMA President Malcolm O’Hagan. “While trade between our two countries is already significant and the Republic of Singapore was already committed to tariff elimination, having an agreement in place will make an excellent commercial relationship even better. We very much hope that this is just one in a series of free trade agreements, be they bilateral, regional, or multilateral, completed by the administration in the months ahead.”

The US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is the first between the world’s biggest economy and an Asian country. With two-way trade totaling $32 billion in 2002, Singapore is America’s 11th largest trading partner.

In 2002, US exports to Singapore of products within the NEMA scope of electrical and medical imaging products exceeded $600 million.

Although tariffs have long not been an issue in US electrical sector sales to Singapore, NEMA welcomes the example the new agreement sets for immediate and guaranteed tariff elimination for US exports. It also directs the US and Singapore to seek to enhance their cooperation on technical regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures.

O’Hagan said, “we are also quite pleased that US negotiators heeded our request to not include an electrical products mutual recognition agreement in the larger FTA package. Our industry supports MRAs for regulated electrical products such as medical devices, but we oppose them for the majority of NEMA goods, which are unregulated. MRAs are not the answer to conformity assessment needs in non-regulated areas; if anything, they serve to encourage the creation of unnecessary product-related

Ever since the ill-fated electrical safety MRA with the European Union was concluded a few years ago, the US government has either excluded electrical products from subsequently negotiated MRAs, or refused to sign on to any such accords that include them.

“With the signing today, we now look to Capitol Hill to use its fast-track trade promotion authority procedures to expedite consideration and approval of the FTA as soon as possible,” said Timothy Feldman, NEMA VP for government affairs. “The Singapore agreement scores well on the NEMA Principles for FTAs, and we will be working closely with our counterparts in the business community to support its quick approval by Congress.”

NEMA Principles for FTAs

* Immediate tariff elimination
* No mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) for non-federally-regulated products
* Energy services liberalization
* Openness and transparency in government procurement
* Protection of intellectual property rights
* Reduction in technical barriers to trade (TBTs) and compliance with all world trade organization (WTO) TBT agreement requirements
* Inclusive definition of “international standards”
* Voluntary, market-driven standards and conformity assessment
* Effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms
* Free trade benefits not encumbered by labor or environmental provisions
* As many other market opening measures as possible


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