As part of his visit this week to Australia, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to sign with his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, an updated Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The updated SAFTA is expected to increase cross border opportunities for accountants of both jurisdictions as well as offer a framework for mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The draft text says that priority will be given to arrangements for engineers and accountants.

Under the updated agreement, financial service providers will now be able to provide a range of financial services on a cross-border basis between the two countries, including investment advice and portfolio management services and brokerage services for insurance of maritime, aviation and transport-related risks.

Equally, the updated agreement offers greater freedom of movements for professionals and business persons between the two countries.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand CEO Lee White welcomed the agreement and said: “We applaud the establishment of a framework to support mutual recognition of professional qualifications, including accounting. Our profession is a global profession; mutual recognition will ensure that professional accountants can take advantage of even greater mobility of their qualification, this will open doors to numerous professional opportunities.”

Similarly Alex Malley, chief executive of CPA Australia, said the trade agreement recognised the global nature of the accountancy profession. “Agreements such as the updated FTA which will support mutual recognition of professional qualifications are very positive,” he added. “Not only is it positive for the profession, but it is good for businesses more broadly as their people increasingly need to have internationally transferrable skills and agreements such as this make it much easier for this to happen.”

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The outcomes at a glance of the updated SAFTA can be found here

While outcomes for the services sector in particular can be found here