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Dezan Shira & Associates’ Senior Manager David Stepat Contributes Expert Insights at the Singapore Business Federation FTA Forum

Singapore, October 26, 2023 – The Singapore Business Federation’s FTA Clinic & Forum 2023, a cornerstone event co-organized with Enterprise Singapore and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Singapore), successfully concluded at the SBF Business Centre. This year’s forum cast a spotlight on the adaptive strategies businesses must adopt in response to global trade volatility and the evolving relevance of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

During the event, David Stepat, Senior Manager for Singapore at Dezan Shira & Associates, who served on a panel featuring Ms Liz Chelliah, Principal Trade Specialist of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Mr Jeffrey Tan, President of the SCS Supply Chain Management Chapter engaged in lively discussion on the dynamic future of FTAs and how they underpin the trajectory of global trade.

Over the course of the seminar, attended by more than 90 participants, discussions ventured into the role of Singapore as an indomitable trade and investment hub, shifting towards an emphasis on services and digital solutions. Critical conversations unfolded regarding the amplification of Singapore’s FTA network, its alignment with contemporary business models, and its role in fortifying supply chain resilience. Participants were also enlightened on practical tools like Enterprise Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant and the Tariff Finder Tool to aid in their FTA navigation.

In his subsequent engagement with Ivy Heng, Assistant Director of the Singapore Business Federation, and SBF Country Head Tan Teck Lee, Stepat delved into Singapore’s significant contributions to ASEAN+1 Free Trade Agreements and its pioneering role in developing the Digital Economy Framework. Articulating Singapore’s forward-thinking approach, David remarked:

“Singapore has long reaped the rewards of its strategic location and its second-to-none business infrastructure. While trade continues to be a pivotal economic pillar, the shift in the composition of global trade nudges us towards a greater focus on services. Recognizing this trend, Singapore has taken groundbreaking steps, including the establishment of world-first digital free trade agreements with nations such as the UK, New Zealand, and Chile. These agreements represent our commitment to being at the vanguard of trade innovation, ensuring that Singapore not only keeps pace but sets it in a digitally driven global economy.”

The forum underscored the sustained influx of foreign direct investment into Singapore, the establishment of global headquarters, and growth in sectors like finance, real estate, and services such as family offices. It also highlighted the accelerated pace of Singaporean investments throughout the Asia-Pacific, indicating a robust expansion into ASEAN markets and beyond.

As a trusted ally in regional commerce, Dezan Shira & Associates reaffirms its dedication to assisting Singaporean enterprises with ASEAN expansion, supported by SBF initiatives. Companies are encouraged to engage with us or the SBF to discover how incentives can be effectively harnessed for business ventures in Singapore and overseas.

For inquiries or further details about the FTA Forum’s insights, please contact our team. 

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