Following his meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said that a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Singapore will likely be finalized "very soon".

Singapore and the European Union (EU) began free trade talks in March 2010 after discussions on a multilateral pact between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed. The EU at the time decided to instead pursue negotiations towards FTAs with individual countries within ASEAN, Singapore being the most significant in terms of trade values. In statements after several recent rounds, both parties have indicated that the agreement could be concluded before the end of 2011, and possibly even effective by then.

An agreement would aim to double trade between the EU and Singapore within the next five years. Singapore is already the EU’s twelfth largest trading partner, while the EU is the second largest export market for Singapore. The EU has also provided around 30% of all foreign direct investment into Singapore, almost three times as large as investment from the US.

During the leaders' meeting, discussion also focused on the global economy, eurozone debt, the reform on economic governance and financial sector regulation. The EU's progress towards developing more cohesive relations with other ASEAN countries was also touched upon.

According to a June statement from the EU's chief negotiator, Rupert Schlegelmilch, the EU is negotiating further trade agreements with India and Malaysia and is considering free trade talks with Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

September 8, 2011

Source: Tax News