Free Trade Agreements
Summary of the U.S. - Singapore Free Trade Agreement
Status: Entered into force January 1, 2004
**The information presented on this website is meant to serve as a guide.
Only the agreement text and the customs regulations issued to implement the agreement
are definitive. For complex issues or where interpretation is required, U.S. exporters should seek legal assistance or an advanced ruling from the customs administration in the country to which they are exporting.**
If you have any questions about this Agreement, please contact Maria D'Andrea
at the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel at 202-482-1550 or by email.
How U.S. Textile and Apparel Companies Benefit
The elimination of duties under the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA) promotes new opportunities for the U.S. textile, apparel, footwear and travel goods industries. In addition, through the elimination of a variety of non-tariff barriers, the agreement further opens the Singapore market to U.S. products. The USSFTA also affords substantial benefits in a broad range of service sectors, enhances the protection of intellectual property, and facilitates U.S. investments through predictable access and a stable business environment. An innovative enforcement mechanism includes monetary penalties to enforce commercial, labor, and environmental obligations of the trade agreement. The USSFTA also includes extensive textile-specific monitoring and anti-circumvention commitments to ensure that textile and apparel goods are not subject to fraud or circumvention, such as transshipment.
Under the USSFTA, duties on qualifying U.S. textile, apparel, footwear and travel goods products entering into Singapore were bound at zero on January 1, 2004. The duty-free status of these goods is affirmed by HS number in the Singapore FTA tariff elimination schedule.
Under the USSFTA, all qualifying imports of textile and apparel products enter the United States free of duty from Singapore. Certain qualifying imports of footwear and non-textile travel goods from Singapore became duty-free upon entry into force of the agreement, whereas the duty on the remainder will be phased out over 8 to 10 years. For imports of Singapore goods into the United States, see the U.S. FTA tariff schedule.
Each line item of the USSFTA tariff schedules is assigned a letter code that indicates the staging by which the duty for each product is reduced and ultimately eliminated. The staging categories are listed below.
- Category A: Duties were eliminated immediately upon the date that the FTA entered into force, i.e., January 1, 2004.
- Category B: Footwear and non-textile travel goods originally facing U.S. duties of between 5 and 10 percent were phased out in equal annual stages over 4 years, becoming duty free on January 1, 2008.
- Category C: Footwear and non-textile travel goods originally facing U.S. duties of between 10 and 15 percent will be phased out in equal annual stages over 8 years, becoming duty free on January 1, 2011.
- Category D: Footwear and non-textile travel goods originally facing U.S. duties of over 15 percent will be phased out in equal annual stages over 10 years, becoming duty free on January 1, 2013.
- Category E: Goods previously receiving duty-free treatment shall continue to receive duty-free treatment under the FTA.
Also see ITA's FTA Tariff Tool to determine current and future tariffs for qualifying products, as well as the date on which products are duty-free.
Qualifying Products/Rules of Origin
In order to take advantage of the duty reduction/elimination, products must qualify as "originating" goods under the terms of the USSFTA. In general, the product must have sufficient U.S. or Singapore content or processing to meet the criteria. Goods containing only U.S. or Singapore inputs qualify. Goods containing inputs from other countries still might qualify if they meet specific criteria set out in the rules of origin of the agreement. Products are subject to specific rules, based on tariff classification. More information on the rules of origin are contained in the following sections of the agreement text.
Rules of Origin for Textile and Apparel Products
In general, the rule of origin for textile and apparel products is referred to as "yarn forward," which requires that the yarn production and all operations forward occur in either Singapore or the United States, but the fiber may be from anywhere. Exceptions to the USSFTA “yarn forward” rule of origin include brassieres and silk and linen apparel goods made from fabric that is cut or knit to shape, sewn, and finished in the territories. Other exceptions to the general rules of origin are discussed below.
De minimis--If a textile or apparel product does not meet the rule of origin requirements as set out above, it might be considered originating if all non-originating fibers and yarns make up less than a "de minimis" seven percent of the total weight of the product. For more details on this provision, see section 3 of Article 3.3 of Chapter 3 – Rules of Origin.
Tariff Preference Levels (TPL)--The USSFTA allows for a certain quantity of apparel goods that do not meet the rules of origin to come in under a preferential tariff rate. These limited allowances for the use of yarn and fabric from a nonparty, referred to as TPL, allows U.S. apparel exporters some flexibility in their inputs. The TPL may only be used for cotton and manmade fiber apparel in Chapters 61 and 62. It was set at an initial level of 25,000,000 square meters equivalent (SME) for the first year, to be reduced over the next seven years, and then eliminated after eight years. Any non-originating goods exceeding the quantity limits are subject to the non-preferential (i.e., MFN) rate of duty. In 2012, after the TPL has expired, all trade must adhere to the Product-Specific Rules of Origin – Annex 3A to qualify for USSFTA tariff benefits. The TPL quantities for the agreement are listed below. (See Article 2.12 of the National Treatment and Market Access for Goods - Chapter 2 of the Agreement and Annex 2D “Conversion Factors” on page 16 of Chapter 2 for more details).
TPLs for Non-Qualifying Cotton and Man-Made Fiber Apparel in HS Chapters 61 and 62
Combined Annual Quantities in Square Meter Equivalents (SME)
|25,000,000 SME in the first year following entry into force |
21,875,000 SME in the second year following entry into force
18,750,000 SME in the third year following entry into force
15,625,000 SME in the fourth year following entry into force
12,500,000 SME in the fifth year following entry into force
9,375,000 SME in the sixth year following entry into force
6,250,000 SME in the seventh year following entry into force
3,125,000 SME in the eighth year following entry into force
In order to enter a good into the United States under a U.S.-Singapore FTA TPL, goods must be classified according to the appropriate subheading in Chapter 99 of the United States Harmonized Tariff Schedule. For more information on U.S. TPL fill rates and proper classification of TPL goods, please contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Fabric and Yarn Not Available in Commercial Quantities--The United States considers certain apparel goods listed in HS Chapter 61 or 62 of Annex 3A- Product Specific Rules of Origin to be an originating good if the good is both cut (or knit to shape) and sewn or otherwise assembled in one or both Parties from fabric or yarn, designated by the appropriate U.S. government authority as fabric or yarn not available in commercial quantities in a timely manner in the United States. Such designation must have been made in a notice published in the Federal Register of the United States identifying apparel goods made from such fabric or yarn as eligible for entry into the United States under certain subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States as of November 15, 2002. For full agreement provisions relating to fabric and yarn not available in commercial quantities, see provisions 3.17 and 3.18 of Chapter 3 - Rules of Origin.
Rules of Origin for Footwear:
There are two different rules of origin that cover footwear in the USSFTA:
- This Rule Applies to All Footwear Except for the Specific Rubber/Fabric & Plastic/Protective Footwear Items Listed Under #2 below--A change to headings 6401 through 6405 from any heading outside that group, provided there is a regional value content of not less than 35 percent based on the "build-up method" or 45 percent based on the "build-down method". There are no restrictions on the use of imported uppers. The regional value content requirement can be comprised of a combination of value from Singapore and the United States.
- This rule applies to the following specific rubber/fabric and plastic/protective footwear items: 6401.10, 6401.91, 6401.92, 6401.99, 6402.30, 6402.91, 6402.99, 6404.11 and 6404.19--A change to headings 6401 through 6405 from any heading outside that group, except from subheading 6406.10, provided there is a regional value content of not less than 55 percent based on the "build-up method". Under this rule of origin, to qualify for the duty benefits, uppers can only be made in the United States or Singapore.
NOTE: The regional value content determined by the “build-up method” is:
VOMWhere RVC is the regional value content, expressed as a percentage; AV is the adjusted value (value without Cost, Insurance, Freight); and VOM is the value of originating materials used by the producer for the production of the good.
RVC = -------- x 100
The regional value content determined by the “build-down method” is:
Where RVC is the regional value content, expressed as a percentage; AV is the adjusted value, and VNM is the value of non-originating materials that are acquired and used by the producer in the production of the good.
AV - VNM
RVC = ------------- x 100
Rules of Origin for Travel Goods
The rule of origin for non-textile travel goods is a change to subheading 4202.11, 4202.19-4202.21, 4202.29-4202.31, 4202.39-4202.91, or 4202.99 from any other chapter. The rule of origin for Textile travel goods (HS numbers: 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32, and 4202.92) products is a change to subheading 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32 or 4202.92 from any other chapter except from headings 5407, 5408 or 5512 through 5516 or tariff items 5903.1015, 5903.1018, 5903.1020, 5903.1025, 5903.2015, 5903.2018, 5903.2020, 5903.2025, 5903.9015, 5903.9018, 5903.9020, 5903.9025, 5906.9920, 5906.9925, 5907.0005, 5907.0015, 5907.0060.
For more information on rules of origin, see Annex 3A - Product-Specific Rules of Origin and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection presentation--How do I Read Tariff Shift Rules. Also see the Singapore Customs web site for information on how determinations of origin are made. Singapore Customs will issue "advance rulings" at the written request of the importer, exporter, or producer on questions of tariff classification. Information on country of origin and customs valuation is also available. The Government of Singapore also supports a Rules of Origin and Tariff Savings tool.
For qualifying goods for which USSFTA duty benefits are requested, the importer must make a claim of preference. The agreement does not require that the importer provide a Certificate of Origin in support of the claim of preference. However, it is the importer’s responsibility to declare in writing in the importation document that a good qualifies as originating. It is recommended that U.S. exporters declare on the commercial invoice “the goods are of U.S. manufacture and comply with the USSFTA”.
For more information on documentation requirements, contact Singapore Customs or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
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For information on common export documents, such as transportation documents, export compliance documents, certificates of origin, certificates for shipments of specific goods, temporary shipment documents, and other export-related documents, see the Export.gov webpage on Common Export Documents.
Measures to Prevent Circumvention of the Agreement’s Rule of Origin
The U.S.-Singapore FTA, as with other recent free trade agreements signed by the United States, contains additional measures to ensure that textile and apparel goods are not subject to fraud or circumvention, such as transshipment. The parties agree that the exporting Party, at the request of the importing Party, shall conduct verification procedures to determine that a claim for origin of a textile and apparel good is accurate, allows the exchange of information between parties when suspicion occurs, and permits the importing party to suspend preferential tariff treatment to the textile and apparel good under suspicion or any textile and apparel good produced or exported by a specific company. Each Party shall take necessary and appropriate measures, including administrative, judicial and enforcement action, to aggressively enforce its laws relating to circumvention, to actively cooperate with the other Party in the enforcement of the other Party’s laws relating to circumvention, and to prevent circumvention. In addition, the Government of Singapore maintains a monitoring and registry program, and each year provides to the U.S. a written report summarizing the results of twice-yearly on-site inspections of all enterprises engaged in textile and apparel production claiming Singapore origin. For more information on these provisions, please see Articles 5.2-5.8 of the Chapter 5 - Textiles and Apparel.
Measures to Prevent Serious Damage, or Actual Threat Thereof, to the Domestic Industry
Under the FTA, either the U.S. or Singapore can take certain actions if imports of a textile or apparel good benefiting from the reduction or elimination of duty under FTA are found to be causing serious damage to the domestic industry producing a like or directly competitive good. For details on the required procedures and each parties’ rights and obligations under the Bilateral Textile and Apparel Safeguard Actions provision, please see Article 5.9 of Chapter 5 - Textiles and Apparel.
Intellectual Property Rights:
In line with its USSFTA commitments, Singapore has developed one of the strongest IPR regimes in Asia. To implement its commitments under the agreement, Singapore amended Section 31 of the Import/Export Act in November 2003 to facilitate information sharing with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and officials from other countries with which Singapore has relevant trade agreements. Nonetheless, Singapore, a major transshipment and transit point for sea and air cargo, does not collect information on the contents and destinations of most transshipment and transit trade, which accounts for 80 percent of the cargo coming through the port. This lack of information makes enforcement against transshipped or transit trade in infringing products virtually impossible.
Under the USSFTA, U.S. suppliers are granted non-discriminatory rights to bid on contracts to supply Singapore’s Government entities, including major procuring entities and administrative and public bodies. The FTA also provides additional government procurement access to U.S. firms by expanding the contracts covered by Singapore’s WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) commitments, in part by subjecting additional contracts to FTA disciplines. Some U.S. firms, however, have expressed concerns that government-owned and government-linked companies (GLCs) may receive preferential treatment in the government procurement process. The U.S. Government has raised this issue with Singapore. For more information, see Chapter 13 - Government Procurement.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Singapore FTA website
United States Department of Commerce US-Singapore FTA website