EU And Singapore Seal Trade Deal.
Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - Singapore - International Trade
26 October, 2018
A trade deal aimed at making it easier and cheaper for businesses to trade between the EU and Singapore markets could come into force by next spring, according to the European Commission.
The EU-Singapore trade agreement was signed on Friday by EU and Singaporean officials. According to a Commission statement, the agreement will "remove nearly all remaining tariffs on certain EU products, simplify customs procedures and set high standards and rules", simplify trade between the jurisdictions in areas such as electronics, food products and pharmaceuticals, and open up trade in other sectors such as telecommunications, environmental services and engineering.
The trade deal, negotiated by the Commission on behalf of EU member states, is still to be ratified by the European Parliament, but the Commission said this could happen before the European elections due in May next year.
Alongside the trade agreement, the EU and Singapore also signed an investment protection agreement and framework agreement on partnership and cooperation.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The signature of the EU-Singapore agreements is another strong message by like-minded partners to defend and promote an international system that is based on rules, on cooperation, and on multilateralism. 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."
There are currently 13 bilateral investment treaties that some individual EU countries, including the UK, France and Germany, have in place with Singapore. These will be replaced by the new investor protection agreement when finalised. The investor agreement needs to be ratified by individual EU member states.
According to a previous Commission announcement, the investor protection agreement provides a new mechanism for businesses to raise complaints over actions by host state authorities that breach the provisions of investment protection where this causes alleged loss or damage to the foreign investor or its locally established company. This might include where the authorities seize business assets, unjustly revoke business licences or otherwise treat foreign investors unfair or unequally compared to treatment afforded to local companies.
The agreement will be interpreted according to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and other rules and principles of international law applicable between the parties.
Singapore is the EU's biggest trading partner already in the ASEAN bloc. Bilateral trade between the EU and Singapore was worth €53.3 billion for goods in 2017, and €44.4bn for services in 2016.
Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, said the new trade agreement "encapsulates a commitment to totally remove tariff barriers in three stages spread over five years" and that the move will be "especially beneficial for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers".
"In addition, rules of origin have been relaxed for goods exported from Singapore but sourced from ASEAN," he said.
This article was published in Out-law here.
For further information please contact:
Bryan Tan, Partner, Pinsent Masons MPillay