Cheers to S'pore-EU free trade deal

Cheers to S'pore-EU free trade deal
Above photo is something to drink to as firms here expect to benefit from the deal. Singapore will grant immediate duty-free access to all EU imports.

Companies have cheered the successful completion of talks for a free trade deal between Singapore and the European Union on Sunday, although some bosses said they were still assessing how it might affect their business.

Exporters will be particularly pleased as it gives many firms tariff-free access to the huge European market, although importers here will see fewer gains as only a handful of items now carry duties.

Singapore's Trade and Industry Ministry said on Sunday that electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food product exporters will benefit.

The trade deal will also improve market access for services such as financial, professional, legal, telecommunications and postal, as well as intellectual property protection, competition policy, technical barriers to trade, government procurement and sustainable development, the ministry said.

Mr Stefano Poli, president of the European Chamber of Commerce (Singapore), said in a statement yesterday that the chamber believed the free trade deal "will act as a catalyst to stimulate further trade and investment between Singapore and Europe".

Mr Sam Chee Wah, general manager of precision engineering firm Feinmetall Singapore, said the deal would help reduce business uncertainty and improve visibility for his firm, which serves the semiconductor industry.

"The market will be more positive... It will be easier to do business with companies in the EU," he said.

Around 90 to 95 per cent of Feinmetall Singapore's suppliers are in the euro zone, and about 80 per cent of its customers are EU firms.

Bosses said they hoped eliminating tariffs on some EU imports would help business.

Mr Jonathan Phoon, executive director of wet towel maker Freshening, which has EU customers, expects "very good benefits" from the trade deal, but has not yet looked into the details.

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