The European Parliament approved the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and EU Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) in a vote on 13 February 2019 in Strasbourg, France. The EUSFTA and EUSIPA are the first trade and investment agreements concluded between the EU and an ASEAN member state.
Following the approval by the European Parliament, both the EU and Singapore will undertake their respective internal administrative processes to enable the EUSFTA to enter into force as soon as possible. As a mixed agreement (the EUSIPA falls under the shared competence of the EU and its member states), the EUSIPA under the EU’s processes will be sent to the regional and national parliaments of the EU member states for approval before entry into force. When the EUSFTA enters into force, EU and Singapore companies will benefit from greater market access across many sectors, increased government procurement opportunities and the progressive elimination of tariffs on exports into Singapore and the EU, amongst others. Singapore will remove tariffs on all EU products entering Singapore. The EU will remove tariffs on 84% of all Singapore products entering the EU within the first year, and the remaining 16% over a period of 3 to 5 years. 3. The EUSFTA will provide for liberal and flexible rules of origin (ROO) for the EU’s and Singapore’s key exports to each other’s markets including automobiles, chemicals, clothing and textiles, electronics, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals.
Unnecessary technical barriers to trade (TBT) will be removed to reduce cost for exporters. Provisions include rules on marking and labelling, reducing duplicative conformity testing for a range of electronic goods, promoting the recognition of international standards for motor and vehicle parts, and certifying systems for meat-producing establishments so that inspection of individual abattoir / food processing plants for companies to export their goods will not be required. The EUSFTA also provides enhanced market access for service providers, professionals and investors, covering a wide range of services sectors including financial services, professional services, computer and related services, research and development, business services, telecommunications and travel related services.
The EU, which has the largest government procurement market in the world, will grant Singapore enhanced access to city-level and municipal-level government procurement opportunities. In return, Singapore’s commitments will allow EU companies more opportunities to participate in our public tenders.
Furthermore, the trade agreement includes a comprehensive intellectual property rights chapter covering provisions on copyright, designs, enforcement and geographical indications (GIs). Singapore will enhance its existing GI regime by setting up a GI Registry to receive applications for GI registration.
The EUSIPA will replace the 12 existing bilateral investment treaties between Singapore and various EU Member States. It offers enhanced investment protection through modern provisions on investment protection that are not contained in the existing bilateral agreements.
(Sources: Ministry of Trade & Industry, Singapore; European Commission; Business Times)