THE HAGUE: Singapore looks forward to the early ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) by the European Parliament, so that both sides can take advantage of the benefits soon, said President Halimah Yacob on Thursday (Nov 22; Friday, Singapore time) during her state visit to the Netherlands.
Speaking at a government dinner hosted by the Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Binnenhof, Mdm Halimah said the EUSFTA could "be a pathfinder to an EU-ASEAN FTA".
She added that an EU-ASEAN FTA could be complemented by the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement that is currently being negotiated.
"These agreements will also strengthen the bilateral ties between our two countries,” she said.
The landmark EUSFTA inked last month in Brussels eliminates tariffs and gives businesses across various sectors - in particular, small- and medium-sized enterprises - better market access.
Also on the topic of trade, Mr Rutte highlighted how both countries are alike.
"Singapore is the springboard to big, booming economies of China and Southeast Asia. The Netherlands is the hub connecting a European market of over 500 million affluent consumers," he said.
"We might be small countries, but we punch well above our weight in areas like logistics, transport, and trade."
During the meeting, Mdm Halimah and Mr Rutte reiterated the commitment of Singapore and the Netherlands to free trade, multilateralism and the rule of law.
They also discussed ways to better encourage innovation and to support the development of a sustainable business and environmental ecosystem through a circular economy.
Later on Friday, Mdm Halimah will visit Eindhoven, where she will find out more about how technology and design can be integrated. She will also host a reception for Singaporeans living in the Netherlands in the evening.