There are also growing concerns about increased public support in a number of industrial sectors, and the inability of current trade rules on subsidies to industry to effectively address this support and the need for new rules to ensure a level playing field. Free trade agreements are agreements between two or more countries to reduce or remove trade barriers and strengthen economic integration. The main sectors of trade liberalization, which are generally covered by free trade agreements, are trade in goods, trade in services and investment. Free trade agreements can include intellectual property protection, public procurement and other cooperative actions. Free trade agreements help to secure export markets, investment and people movements and facilitate trade and investment in free trade partner markets. Only a more modern, comprehensive and coherent set of trade, national and international policies can contribute to a better life for more people. « As a result, these agreements are increasingly defining new rules that govern trade between their parties and are not extended to all other WTO members. In addition, some of these issues are not regulated by the WTO in international trade. The inclusion of these provisions indicates that there is a growing divergence between existing WTO and ATR rules. This is another challenge for the multilateral trading system, firstly because it makes WTO rules less relevant to some trading partners and, second, because WTO members who are not part of the RTA network are increasingly excluded from these rules. With regard to the first challenge, recent investigations by the WTO secretariat indicate that the divergence of some provisions may be less pronounced, given that ATRs generally tend to repeat WTO rules. With regard to anti-dumping, safeguarding measures and, to some extent, health and plant health standards and measures, most ATRs retain the rights and obligations of contracting parties in the WTO. In other areas, although the RTA creates new rules, many parties take a similar approach that is common to all or most of their ATRs.
This « model approach » could, to some extent, reduce the magnitude of the discrepancy. Singapore`s reluctance to implement free trade agreements with African countries could be explained by its relatively weak trade with African countries compared to other regions. Singapore`s total trade with the African continent is only 1.5%. Traditionally, Singapore was not involved in much trafficking with Africa. In 1980, domestic exports to the African region amounted to $884 million. Over the same period, exports to other regions outside Asia amounted to $3.9 billion, $2.8 billion and $4.5 billion to Europe, Oceania and the Americas. Although trade with Africa has increased significantly since 2010, it is fading relative to that of countries and other regions. Published in 2005, Singapore`s Free Trade Agreement (Goods Trade) guide for SMEs in the spring listed South Africa and Egypt as two African countries with FTAs in the Works. But these free trade agreements never came into being. According to IE Singapore, South Africa was ranked in 2013 as Singapore`s 33rd largest trading partner and bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $2.236 billion in 2015. In the same year, Egypt had bilateral trade of $679.1 million with Singapore. As digitization changes what we do and how, it raises complex new questions about trade rules.
From the increasingly blurred line between goods and services and between types of services to new issues related to smart products, 3D printing and data flows, new negotiations are being asked to