- POSTED: 20 Sep 2013 15:14
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The European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement has moved one step closer to ratification with the finalisation of the legal text.
SINGAPORE: The European Union (EU)-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) has moved one step closer to ratification with the finalisation of the legal text.
The legal text of the agreement was initialled by chief negotiators from both sides on Friday.
The next step is for the agreement to be translated from English into 23 other EU languages, before it is submitted to the European Parliament for approval.
The agreement is expected to enter into force in 2015.
It is the first bilateral agreement concluded by the EU with an ASEAN country and the second agreement between the EU and an Asian country, after South Korea.
Singapore's chief negotiator for this agreement, Keith Tan, said: "This is an important FTA for Singapore and will further strengthen the strong ties Singapore already enjoys with the EU. Unlike other typical FTAs in which bilateral free trade occur between two specific countries, the EUSFTA covers all EU member states.
"Not only will Singapore businesses be able to gain easier access to markets in 28 EU member states, but EU companies can also leverage on Singapore as a gateway and hub to do business across Asia."
The EU's chief negotiator of this trade agreement, Rupert Schlegelmilch, said: "The EU and Singapore are already trading 1 billion euros worth of goods every week, and the agreement lays the foundations upon which business ties can prosper further.
"This is also the first step towards closer economic ties between the two major integrated regions in the world, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the EU, and their 1.1 billion citizens."
Based on Singapore's latest bilateral trade figures in 2012, S$23.2 billion worth of Singapore goods (representing 80 per cent of all EU tariff lines) will qualify for immediate tariff free treatment, while the remaining S$4.3 billion worth of Singapore goods (representing 20 per cent of tariff lines) will qualify at three or five years after the agreement enters into force.