WARSAW: Singapore and Poland are looking forward to the early ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) to boost economic links between the two countries, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Monday (May 22) during his state visit to Poland.
Speaking at the Poland-Singapore Business Forum, President Tan said the EUSFTA “will send a strong signal of the EU’s commitment to engage Asia”, in strategic terms.
He cited benefits to companies on both sides, including improved market access for Polish companies to Singapore and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the elimination of the need for duplicate testing for technical and safety standards and approvals.
“In this regard, Singapore appreciates Poland’s strong and continued support for the ratification of this mutually-beneficial agreement," said Dr Tan.
The EU's top court had ruled last week that for the FTA to fully come into force, it needs approval from the 38 national and sub-national parliaments of the 28 member states in the regional bloc.
President Tan said Singapore, being at the heart of ASEAN, also presents “significant opportunities for Polish companies”, and “can be a springboard for Poland into a rising Asia”.
Together, he said the 10 ASEAN economies represent a market of almost S$3.6 trillion, and its combined GDP is expected to expand to more than S$14 trillion by 2030, to be the fourth largest single market in the world.
THREE NEW PARTNERSHIPS INKED
President Tan also witnessed the signing of three new partnerships to strengthen ties and facilitate information exchange between Singaporean and Polish business communities. He said the MOUs are “important platforms to grow business linkages” between both countries.
The Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH) inked agreements with IE Singapore and Business Federation, while Singapore research agency A*STAR signed a partnership with Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Fourteen Singapore companies are participating in a business delegation co-led by IE Singapore and Singapore Business Federation (SBF), looking to explore opportunities in the Central and Eastern European region.
The MOU between the PAIH and IE Singapore will create a platform for exchange of information between the Polish and Singaporean business communities, especially in focus sectors of manufacturing, transport and logistics, wholesale trade and information and communications technology.
IE Singapore’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer Yew Sung Pei cited specific opportunities in aerospace, automotive, and precision engineering segments, where Singapore firms have expertise.
SciMed (Asia), a Singapore-headquartered life sciences firm that is participating in the business delegation, hopes to find a contract manufacturer in Poland, where it said business costs are favourable and manufacturing standards are high.
The firm’s Managing Director Keith Low said SciMed hopes to find partners that can meet international standards in Poland as the “standards in biomedical and life sciences industries are usually set much higher than other industries”.
SBF, whose partnership with PAIH is expected to identify barriers and solutions to trade and investments, says companies in the region are also becoming more open to working with foreign businesses, despite more protectionist policies in developed economies.
SBF CEO Ho Meng Kit said there has been a shift towards “harder, more rigid regulations” more developed economies. Yet, Central and Eastern Europe is seen as being “a little bit more progressive”.
Trade between the EU and Singapore reached S$93.2 billion in 2016, up from S$90.8 billion the year before.