EU and Singapore strengthen ties

Sabrine Donohoe

The EU and Singapore have signed three Agreements: the EU-Singapore Trade Agreement, the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement and the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation, according to a press release from the European Commission.

The Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement aim to increase the EU’s presence in the key region, seeing as its trade with the EU was worth S$75 billion (over €47.45 billion) in 2017 and Singapore stands as the EU’s biggest trading partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation aims to strengthen efforts in areas like climate change, education, culture, transport, organised crime and counter terrorism efforts.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement: “The trade agreement will open up new opportunities for European producers, workers, farmers and consumers, mirroring what this Commission has delivered with other like-minded partners across the world, whilst our collective resolve to tackling global challenges will be strengthened through political dialogue.”

Singapore was the preferred investment area in Asia among European countries, with 10,000 companies choosing to establish there. The economic agreements will cease nearly all remaining tariffs on EU products like food, pharmaceuticals and electronics, and simplify customs procedures.

The nation is one of the four Asian Tigers, along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. These countries underwent exceptionally fast economic development in the 1950s and 1960s, with annual growth rates exceeding seven per cent.

GDP in Singapore grew by 3.6 per cent to S$447.3 billion last year, according to the Department of Statistics Singapore (DOS). The Singaporean GDP per capita also increased from S$72,376 to S$76,863 between 2016 and 2017, a 6.2 percentage increase year on year while the population remained at 5.6 million.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is the fourth among ASEAN countries, following agreements with Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. It will overwrite the legalities of the 1980 Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and ASEAN member countries.

ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967 with the aim to increase economic and cultural considerations and maintain peace in East Asia. The original signatories of the ASEAN Declaration were Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand; although the Association now comprises of 10 Member States.

The EU-Singapore Agreements were signed on October 19, 2018. The European Commission expects the Trade Agreement to be ratified before the end of its current mandate in 2019, although like all Agreements, it must first be ratified by all EU Member States.

Sabrine Donohoe

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