The Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (also known as “ASTEP” or “the Agreement”) is the first economic cooperation agreement (“ECA”) between Taiwan and a Southeast Asian country. It marks a significant step in Taiwan’s strategy for engaging in regional integration and connecting with Southeast Asia, the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
Taiwan and Singapore (“the Parties”) have a close long-standing economic and trade relationship. According to Taiwan’s Customs’ statistics for 2012, Singapore is Taiwan's 5th largest trading partner, 4th largest export market, 8th largest source of imports and 9th largest source of foreign investment, with a bilateral trade of USD 28.2 billion. Taiwan is Singapore's 8th largest trading partner, 10th largest export market, and 5th largest source of imports.
ASTEP is a high-quality and high-standard agreement with a total of 17 chapters covering a wide range of topics commonly found in FTAs, including trade in goods, cross-border trade in services, rules of origin, customs procedures, Technical Barriers to Trade (“TBT”), Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (“SPS”), and intellectual property. The Agreement also encompasses topics not currently covered under the WTO agreements designed to expand the scope of bilateral cooperation, such as E-commerce, investment and competition.