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JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE JAPANESE AND SINGAPORE PRIME MINISTERS ON THE INITIATION OF NEGOTIATIONS FOR CONCLUDING A BILATERAL ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
22nd October 2000 In Tokyo

The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, and the Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, held a meeting in Tokyo on 22 October, 2000, to discuss the importance of establishing an economic agreement for a new age partnership between Japan and Singapore.

The two Prime Ministers recalled the decision made on 8 December, 1999, by the then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, to conduct a joint study to examine the feasibility and desirability of concluding a free trade agreement between the two countries. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the report presented to them by the Joint Study Group, which comprised government officials, prominent academics and business leaders from the two countries.

The two Prime Ministers stressed the close economic and strategic ties between the two countries that have been developed through fruitful co-operation over many years. These ties include a firm bilateral trade and investment relationship, together with shared perception for many geopolitical issues. They took note with great appreciation of the fact that such close ties have offered a variety of mutual economic and strategic benefits, and underscored the feasibility and desirability of further strengthening their economic partnership.

The two Prime Ministers emphasised that the global economic environment is rapidly changing due to globalisation and technological progress, especially in the information and communication technology (IT) area. They recognised that competitiveness would rely on the creativity of people and favourable business environment in putting creativity into business activities, and that it could be enhanced through closer economic partnership between countries. They also noted that both countries should take active measures to encourage innovation and competition in their countries.

The two Prime Ministers realised that (a) trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation and (b) bilateral co-operation in various areas to facilitate smooth trans-border flow of management resources would help to create a larger market which would provide greater opportunities and larger economies of scale for Japanese and Singapore businesses. They also recognised that such a partnership would institutionalise regulatory and other policy reforms in both countries, enabling them to stay attractive to capital and talent. They expressed their hope that it would have a positive demonstrative impact on other economies.

The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the primacy of the multilateral trading system and shared views that regional trade agreements must be consistent with WTO rules, and be complementary to the multilateral trading system. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the efforts towards maintaining and strengthening the multilateral trading system, and recognised the catalytic role which regional trade agreements should play in accelerating global liberalisation and rule making in the framework of the multilateral trading system.

In line with these views, the two Prime Ministers hereby decided that the governments of the two countries should work expeditiously to conclude an economic agreement for a new age partnership. This agreement should encompass the broad-ranging scopes proposed by the Joint Study Group, while giving due consideration to the need to address the problems expressed in its report. They also decided that formal negotiations should begin in January 2001 and to conclude the agreement within a reasonably short period of time, but not later than 31 December, 2001, so as not to lose momentum.

The two Prime Ministers concluded that they should keep an eye on the progress of negotiations to expedite, and intervene in, the process, whenever necessary. This is to ensure that Japan and Singapore achieve a high-level economic agreement for a new age partnership which could serve as a model framework to other countries.

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