Singapore and the European Union (EU) signed free-trade and investment protection agreements in Brussels in a bid to improve bilateral business ties amid rising global trade conflicts.
Singapore and the EU will remove tariffs, reduce technical barriers, and provide better opportunities in services and government procurement under the deals, the Singapore government said in a statement.
The city-state will drop tariffs on all products coming from the European Union. The EU will remove tariffs on 84 percent of Singapore’ products and the remaining 16 percent over three to five years. The investment-protection agreement will replace the existing bilateral treaties and set up a new dispute-resolution mechanism for investors.
The trade pacts “give Singapore companies greater market access to the EU and boost confidence for investors and entrepreneurs,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on his Facebook page. The FTA, which has been under negotiation since 2010, will get ratified by next year, he added.
The EU was Singapore’s third-largest trading partner in 2017, with bilateral trade in goods exceeding S$98 billion ($71 billion), while the city-state is the bloc’s top trading partner in southeast Asia.
“Both agreements serve as building blocks toward an eventual EU-ASEAN FTA, paving the way for future region-to-region cooperation,” said S. Iswaran, Singapore’s minister for communications and information.