SINGAPORE - Singapore's trade with the European Union (EU) received a boost yesterday as both sides successfully completed almost three years of negotiations for a free trade agreement, which will grant Singapore and EU companies greater access to each other's markets.
The EU will be eliminating tariffs on all imports from Singapore over a period of five years, but 80 per cent of the tariff lines will already be covered once the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), concluded in Singapore yesterday, comes into force.
In particular, the removal of the EU's tariffs under the EUSFTA will benefit Singapore exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food products while Singapore will grant immediate duty-free access for all imports from the EU.
Both Singapore and the EU have also committed to make extensive commitments guaranteeing access to each others' services markets under the EUSFTA, which will be signed only after all domestic processes, including translations and verifications, are completed.
These commitments cover a wide range of sectors of interest to EU and Singapore companies, including environmental services, computer and related services, professional and business services, financial services and maritime transport services.
In addition, the EUSFTA will see the removal of a number of non-tariff measures between the EU and Singapore, improving access for exporters of pharmaceuticals and electronics. The agreement will also widen access to government procurement opportunities in the EU and Singapore.
It is believed that the final stages of the talks involved negotiations in financial services, legal services, intellectual property rights, rules of origin and the investment chapter.
Overall, the EUSFTA is a comprehensive and broad-based agreement covering tariff-free access for goods, improved market access for services (including specific commitments on sectoral markets for financial, professional, legal, telecommunications and postal services), intellectual property protection, competition policy, technical barriers to trade, government procurement and sustainable development.
"There are numerous opportunities and benefits that EU and Singaporean companies can look forward to, once the agreement enters into force," said Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.
"Singapore is confident that the EUSFTA will further enhance our bilateral economic relations, and pave the way for a region-to-region trade deal between the EU and Asean," added Mr Lim.