Singapore has its eyes on the East Africa Community (EAC). The economic bloc is formed by Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and is home to more than 157 million citizens. The EAC had a combined GDP of US$147bn in 2014 and an average annual GDP growth of over 6% projected for the coming two years. Huge investment opportunities arise there at an increasingly fast rate and Singapore is taking steps to grow in this market.
Despite Singapore’s growing trade and investment partnerships with Africa, there have been no free trade agreements (FTAs) between the city state and the African continent. Rather, both parties have agreed to a number of bilateral investment treaties, primarily concerned with private investments and double taxation avoidance treaties. By using Singapore as a successful model of a trading nation that benefits from FTAs, this article seeks to examine the reasons why African countries have not successfully implemented FTAs with Singapore. It also considers what needs to be done to facilitate both intra- and inter-trade in Africa.
Nanyang Technological University’s Centre for African Studies is encouraging reluctant businesses to seek African opportunities.
Appropriately for a country that thrives on interaction with the outside world, Singapore’s remarkable transition can be summed up by the presence of two radically different British visitors.
There is much to be done to build relations between Singapore and Africa. Shabbir Hassanbhai, chairman of the Africa Business Group at the Singapore Business Federation and non-resident high commissioner to Nigeria, talked to African Business about how to firm up ties.