Negotiations on the free trade agreement between the United States and Singapore began in December 2000 under the Clinton administration. The free trade agreement would be the fifth such agreement signed by the United States and the first with an Asian country. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the free trade agreement has opened up new avenues over the years of e-commerce, competition policy and public procurement. It also contains what the U.S. Trade Representative claims to see as great progress in the areas of intellectual property protection, the environment, labour, transparency, customs cooperation and transshipments. He added: “Through this agreement, we will facilitate business investment in Singapore and the United States and help businesses access more trade finance facilities. We also look forward to catalyzing greater trade and investment flows between the United States, Singapore and Southeast Asia and enabling our businesses to continue to act and seize opportunities in these difficult times. All of the key obligations of the agreement, including the labour and environmental provisions, are governed by the dispute settlement provisions of the agreement (Chapter 20). Dispute resolution procedures are considered by negotiators to be high standards of openness and transparency and include: customs procedures. (Chapter 4) The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is one of the first U.S. trade agreements with specific and concrete commitments to customs procedures.
The agreement requires transparency and efficiency of customs administration, with obligations to publish customs legislation and legislation on the internet and to ensure the security and fairness of procedures. The two sides agreed to exchange information on the fight against illegal handling of goods. In addition, the agreement contains a specific language designed to facilitate the clearance of express deliveries. Workers` rights. (Chapter 17) In the free trade agreement, labour obligations are part of the central text of the trade agreement. Both sides should reaffirm their obligations as members of the International Labour Organization and strive to ensure that their national laws provide for labour standards consistent with internationally recognized labour principles. The agreement also contains the language that it is inappropriate to weaken or reduce internal labour security in order to promote trade or investment. The agreement also requires the parties to effectively enforce their own national labour laws. This obligation can be implemented through the dispute resolution mechanisms of the agreement (see section on dispute resolution).
Over 1,400 pages of 21 chapters, the agreement fulfills all the negotiating objectives requested by Congress in the Trade Act 2002 (TPA).