Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP)
About this agreement
The Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP) is a high-quality comprehensive agreement that will liberalise and facilitate trade in goods, trade in services and investment between both markets.
ASTEP is an important agreement for Singapore. It provides preferential tariff access that offers Singapore exporters a competitive advantage in a market of 23 million, and includes provisions on intellectual property, government procurement, e-commerce, competition and dispute settlement.
Trade in Goods
For Singapore Exports to Chinese Taipei: Opening Chinese Taipei’s market
Singapore will stand to benefit from the progressive elimination of tariffs on close to all of Singapore’s current exports to Chinese Taipei once ASTEP is fully implemented.
Approximately 98% of Singapore’s current exports will qualify for immediate tariff-free treatment, while the remaining 2% will qualify at ten or fifteen years after ASTEP entered into force.
Singapore-based companies exporting to Chinese Taipei, particularly those in the electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery and processed food products sectors, will stand to benefit from the removal of tariffs.
Tariff elimination will deliver significant benefits for Singapore exporters:
|Category||Tariff Staging (Upon Implementation)||Date of Entry into Chinese Taipei Duty-Free|
|EIF||Immediate Elimination||19 April 2014|
|5||Elimination in 5 equal annual stages||1 January 2018|
|10||Elimination in 10 equal annual stages||1 January 2023|
|15||Elimination in 15 equal annual stages||1 January 2028|
|P||Reduction by one-fifth of base rates in 5 equal annual stages||Tariffs reduced by one-fifth on 1 January 2018|
The table below provides a summary of Chinese Taipei’s tariff commitments under ASTEP:
|Category||% of Trade that is Tariff Here||Examples of key products that are tariff free|
|Already tariff free||82.5%||Some cereals, starches, mineral fuels, electronics, machinery|
|Upon EIF (19 April 2014)||96.7%||Processed food products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, machinery, transport equipment|
|1 January 2018||98.2%||Some dairy, textile products|
|1 January 2023||99.9%||Processed food products|
|1 January 2028||100%*||Some dairy products, processed food products|
For Chinese Taipei Exports to Singapore
ASTEP provides for the immediate elimination of tariffs on all goods originating from Chinese Taipei.
ASTEP Rules of Origin (ROO) in brief
Originating GoodsGoods exported to Chinese Taipei from Singapore are treated as originating if:
- Goods are wholly obtained or produced in Singapore;
- Goods meet the applicable product specific rules set out in Annex 4B (Product Specific Rules) of ASTEP; or
- Goods are produced in Singapore exclusively from originating materials from Chinese Taipei.
Goods that are wholly obtained or produced in either Singapore or Chinese TaipeiThese are goods that will be automatically accepted as originating under ASTEP. To qualify as such, the goods must not contain non-originating materials. Such goods are normally natural-resource-based goods obtained in Singapore and the final products made from them that do not include any non-originating materials. This rule applies largely to agricultural goods such as live animals, plants and plant goods.
Goods that meet applicable ASTEP product-specific rulesThese are goods manufactured in Singapore or Chinese Taipei which may contain non-originating materials. Under such circumstances, there are three ways listed below to determine if a good is originating. In addition, exporters and manufacturers can apply either one of these criteria to a good for a large majority of products – such as processed food, electronics and chemicals.
- Change in tariff classification (CTC). Goods will be considered originating if they can satisfy a change in tariff classification rule as specified in Annex 4B of ASTEP.
The difference between the classification of the final good and the classification of the non-originating materials that went into the production of the good will determine whether the conditions of the specific change in tariff classification rule have been met. The final product must have a different classification code (HS Code) from that of imported or non-originating raw materials used in its manufacture. CTC must occur in Singapore.
A good can be considered originating at three different levels:
Change in chapter (CC)
All non-originating materials underwent a change at the two-digit level in Singapore. Change in tariff heading (CTH)
All non-originating materials underwent a change at the four-digit level in Singapore. Change in tariff sub-heading (CTSH)
All non-originating materials underwent a change at the six-digit level in Singapore. Where a good does not satisfy the CTC requirement, it can still be treated as originating if the value of all non-originating materials used in its production that did not undergo the required CTC does not exceed 10% of the Free-on-Board value of the good. Free-on-Board means the free-on-board value of the good, inclusive of the cost of transport to the port or site of final shipment abroad.
- Regional Value Content (RVC). A good is considered originating if it meets the minimum percentage of value originating from Singapore. The value can be calculated using the formula below:
RVC = (TV – VNM) / TV x 100%
- RVC is the regional value content expressed as a percentage;
- TV is the transaction value of the good, adjusted on an FOB basis; and
- VNM is the transaction value of the non-originating materials when they were first acquired or supplied to the producer of the goods, adjusted on a Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) basis.
- Process rules. Goods are considered originating if they undergo certain specified manufacturing processes or operations (e.g. chemical reaction rule) in Singapore. Examples of such rules can be found in the chemical chapters (HS 28–40).
- Change in tariff classification (CTC). Goods will be considered originating if they can satisfy a change in tariff classification rule as specified in Annex 4B of ASTEP. The difference between the classification of the final good and the classification of the non-originating materials that went into the production of the good will determine whether the conditions of the specific change in tariff classification rule have been met. The final product must have a different classification code (HS Code) from that of imported or non-originating raw materials used in its manufacture. CTC must occur in Singapore. A good can be considered originating at three different levels: Change in chapter (CC)
As a complement to the removal of tariffs, the Customs Procedures Chapter aims to facilitate the flow of goods between the two Parties by simplifying customs procedures. This ensures that traders will enjoy the full benefits that are accrued to tariff removal.
Under the Agreement, both Customs Administrations would promote paperless trading including the establishment of a single window, adopting risk management, issuing advance rulings and sharing best practices. Traders will benefit from a faster turnaround time which would lower compliance costs for Customs regulatory requirements.
Both Parties have committed to establish mutual recognition of their Authorised Economic Operator programmes based on the World Customs Organisation Framework of Standards, to secure and facilitate trade.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
Standards, regulations and conformity assessment procedures can become technical barriers to trade (TBT). ASTEP aims to reduce TBTs between Singapore and Chinese Taipei through the establishment of a framework of provisions:
- A commitment that each Party should accord conformity assessment bodies located in the other Party treatment no less favourable than what it accords to conformity assessment bodies in its own jurisdiction;
- The Parties are encouraged to use a broad range of mechanisms to facilitate the acceptance of conformity assessment procedures conducted in the other Party;
- Regulatory dialogue and cooperation are encouraged to facilitate the acceptance of conformity assessment results, to support greater regulatory alignment and to eliminate unnecessary technical trade barriers;
- International standards, guides and recommendations are to be used as the basis for technical regulations whenever possible; and
- A commitment that the Parties will engage in technical discussions with a view to resolving issues as they arise.
Trade in Services
Scope of Services CoveredThe Cross-border Trade in Services chapter in ASTEP covers a spectrum of services sectors, notably maritime, transportation, professional and business services.
Market Access Commitments and Other Core ObligationsThe Cross-Border Trade in Services chapter of ASTEP establishes the following key obligations for services trade:
- Both Singapore and Chinese Taipei are prohibited from limiting access to their market through quantitative restrictions such as limits on the number of service suppliers or the value of services supplied.
- Equal treatment to a local service supplier.
- Both Singapore and Chinese Taipei cannot require a foreign services provider to have a commercial presence, or a legal presence in the other market, as a precondition to operating in the market when the services can be delivered in other ways.
Chinese Taipei’s Market Access CommitmentsChinese Taipei has existing commitments for services market access (including Mode 3 investment) under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Under ASTEP, Chinese Taipei has agreed to make additional commitments and expand the coverage of committed sectors, including telecommunications, services incidental to fishing and energy production, distribution, maritime and road transport, and entertainment, sporting and recreational services. Notably for maritime transportation services, there are fewer requirements necessary for Singapore suppliers seeking to engage in maritime transportation services as a vessel carrier in Chinese Taipei. These outcomes provide Singapore service suppliers with the certainty of continued openness for the operation of such services in these sectors in Chinese Taipei.
ASTEP includes a high-quality Investment chapter which sets out clear rules based on international best practices. This will facilitate the increase in investment flows between Singapore and Chinese Taipei by seeking to remove barriers to market access. At the same time, investors and investments from Singapore and Chinese Taipei are ensured protection with a framework of disciplines which also recognises and respects the right of both sides to regulate.
These disciplines, which are subject to exceptions listed in the Services-Investment schedules of ASTEP, include:
National treatmentSingapore investors and investments in Chinese Taipei will be provided similar treatment to that of locals, and will not be discriminated against in favour of local investors and investments “in like circumstances”.
Performance requirementsForeign investors and investments within Chinese Taipei shall not be subject to a range of performance requirements that might distort trade and investment. This includes requirements to purchase goods produced in Chinese Taipei or to export a certain level of goods, prior to making an investment in Chinese Taipei.
Senior management and boards of directorsSingapore investments in Chinese Taipei may not be required to appoint persons of a particular nationality/citizenship to senior management positions, or to appoint to the board of directors majority persons of a particular nationality/citizenship such that Singapore investors are unable to control the investment.
In addition, the chapter contains disciplines to ensure that Singapore investors and investments are protected by balanced rules such as:
ExpropriationChinese Taipei can only expropriate or nationalise a Singapore investor’s property in Chinese Taipei for a public purpose and in a non-discriminatory manner, in accordance with due process and upon payment of compensation.
Compensation for LossesShould Singapore investments suffer losses owing to war, armed conflict or other similar situations in Chinese Taipei, Singapore investors will be provided the same treatment that is given to locals or to other foreigners, whichever may be more favourable.
TransfersSubject to specific exceptions, Singapore investors will be guaranteed free flow of capital in and out of Chinese Taipei.
The aim of this chapter is to promote fair competition and curtail anti-competitive practices. Effective application and enforcement of competition law contributes towards greater productivity, innovation and competitiveness of markets. In the long-term, businesses enjoy lower barriers to entry and a level playing field. On the other hand, consumers will benefit from greater choices of products and lower prices. The competition chapter allows for mutual cooperation between Singapore and Chinese Taipei in the areas of information exchange and notification of anti-competitive practices.
Opening the Chinese Taipei MarketSingapore companies can already participate in Chinese Taipei’s government procurement market according to the commitments spelt out in the GPA. Under ASTEP, the Government Procurement Chapter assures Singapore companies that they will be treated on an equal par with the local suppliers for several new areas of market access compared to the GPA. Chinese Taipei has reciprocally lowered its threshold for procurements by its central government entities from SDR 130,000 to SDR 100,000. (The thresholds are expressed in IMF Special Drawing Rights. The conversion from SDR to S$ is revised every two years. Please refer to the WTO website for the conversion rates). It has also given Singapore access to 3 new Special Municipalities, which were not offered at the GPA, namely New Taipei City, Taichung City and Tainan City. It effectively means that procurements undertaken by all 5 Special Municipalities of Chinese Taipei are now open to Singapore companies for participation, ensuring that Singapore companies are treated on an equal footing with the local companies. Singapore companies can also look forward to participating in new areas such as procurements in wastewater management, cloud computing and infrastructure.
Chapter 4. Rules of Origin
Annex 4A. Remanufactured Goods
Annex 4B. General Notes
Annex 4B. PSRs (Chapter Notes Incorporated)
Annex 4C. List of Goods Eligible for Outward Processing
Annex 4D. Competent Government Authority for Customs Procedures Relating to Origin
Annex 4E. Template for Declaration of Origin