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EU Parliament go-ahead for trade deal with Singapore

14 February 2019, 21:09 CET
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EU Parliament go-ahead for trade deal with Singapore

Singapore - Photo by Merlion444

(STRASBOURG) - The European Parliament gave its endorsement Wednesday to the free trade and investment protection deals between EU and Singapore, serving as blueprint for further cooperation with Southeast Asia.

Singapore is by far the EU's largest partner in the region, accounting for almost a third of EU-ASEAN trade in goods and services, and roughly two-thirds of investment between the two regions. Over 10,000 European companies have their regional offices in Singapore.

The free trade agreement will remove virtually all tariffs between the two parties within five years. It will allow for free trade in services, including in retail banking. It also protects unique European products such as Jerez wine or Nürnberger Bratwurst and opens up the Singaporean procurement market to EU companies working, for example, in the rail sector. The agreement includes strengthened labour rights and environmental protection, an element particularly important to Parliament.

As the first bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the deal can serve as a stepping stone to further free trade deals between the two regions, at a time when the EU can no longer rely on the US as a trading partner, the resolution accompanying the decision states.

Separately, Parliament also agreed to an investment protection agreement providing a court system with independent judges to settle disputes between investors and state, and to a partnership and cooperation agreement, by 537 votes for, 85 against and 50 abstentions, which extends cooperation beyond the field of trade.

Parliament's rapporteur on the agreements on the free trade and the investment protection deals David Martin MEP said the deal demonstrated how committed the Parliament was to a rules-based trading system. The EU "keeps fair and free trade alive," he said. "The trade agreement will not only enhance the EU's access to the Singapore market, but even more to the growing ASEAN region, while ensuring workers and the environment are well protected. The investment protection agreement incorporates the EU's reformed approach, and will replace the existing Singapore-EU member state deals that include the toxic investor-state dispute settlement."

Once the EU Council concludes the trade agreement, it can enter into force on the first day of the second month following the conclusion. For the investment protection and the partnership and cooperation agreements to enter into force, the member states first need to ratify them.

Further information, European Parliament

Adopted texts will be available here (click on 13.02.2019)

Procedure file: free trade agreement

Procedure file: investment protection agreement

Procedure file: partnership and cooperation agreement

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