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EU, Singapore Agree Free Trade Deal

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

23 October 2014

The European Union and Singapore have announced the completion of negotiations towards a free trade agreement (FTA), after concluding talks on the investment protection portion of the pact.

Negotiations on an FTA between the EU and Singapore began in March 2010 and a text including all but the investment portion was initialed in September 2013.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: "The conclusion of this chapter marks a very important step in our partnership with Singapore, strengthening our investment relations. Now, we have a comprehensive agreement which is a gateway to this important region in Asia. It will help boost economic growth, investment, and job creation in the EU. It will help opening the door for Europe to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market with 600 million consumers."

The investment protection chapter commits both the EU and Singapore to ensuring a stable and fair regime for foreign investors, while preserving the right of the parties to regulate in the public's interest. Under the FTA, EU exporters will be granted immediate duty-free access to the Singaporean market for all products. The EU will eliminate virtually all tariffs over a five-year period, and expects Singaporean exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and processed food products to benefit in particular.

Singapore was the EU's 15th largest global trading partner and fifth largest Asian trading partner in 2013. The EU accounted for nearly ten percent of Singaporean trade volumes, with bilateral flows of EUR46.7bn (USD59.7bn), and its largest contributor of foreign direct investment. Singapore is the second largest Asian investor into the EU.

De Gucht said: "This agreement also sends a positive signal to other ASEAN partners and should pave the way for comprehensive trade agreements with other countries from this region." He added that the EU is currently negotiating FTAs with Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

The FTA with Singapore will be signed and ratified after it has been translated into all official EU languages.

TAGS: tax | investment | free trade agreement (FTA) | tariffs | trade treaty | investment treaty | Singapore | Thailand | food | agreements | tax rates | Malaysia | trade | European Union (EU) | Vietnam | Europe | Invest

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