EU seals Singapore trade pact
20.09.13 @ 09:31
BRUSSELS - EU trade officials moved a step closer to sealing an trade pact with Singapore after negotiators for both sides presented the entire text of the agreement on Friday (20 September).
"This is also the first step towards closer economic ties between the two major integrated regions in the world, ASEAN and the EU, and their 1.1 billion citizens," the lead negotiators, Rupert Schlegelmilch and Keith Tan, said in a statement, after signing each page of the document which runs over 1,000 pages. The main negotiations concluded in December 2012.
The agreement is the first free trade deal between the EU and a south-east Asian country in the ASEAN region. However, the commission has also started talks with Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, as it seeks to reach trade pacts with the ASEAN bloc.
Despite being one of the smaller countries in the region, Singapore makes up about a third of all EU-ASEAN trade and more than 60 percent of all investment between the two regions. Trade in goods between the two topped €52 billion in 2012 and in services €28 billion in 2011.
The commission estimates that the deal would boost EU exports to Singapore by around €1.4 billion euros over a decade, while Singapore could see its exports to the bloc increase by around €3.5 billion.
Meanwhile, in a sign likely to encourage EU negotiators starting landmark trade talks with the United States and Japan, the draft agreement with Singapore goes far beyond the scrapping of traditional tariff barriers. Public procurement will be opened up, with agreements having also been reached on technical standards in a number of sectors such as motor vehicles, electronics and green technologies.
The EU commission estimates that eliminating so-called 'behind border tariffs' is worth four times more to economic output than levies on imports.
The deal is “one of the most comprehensive free-trade agreements ever negotiated,” the commission said in a statement.
The commission now needs to secure support for the agreement from EU governments and the European Parliament before it can enter into force. The EU executive expects the deal to take effect in late 2014 or early 2015.