LONDON: With the 200th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore coming up in 2019, Singapore and the United Kingdom will commemorate the bicentennial with a “new and substantive partnership”.
This was discussed during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s first formal bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday (Apr 19).
Mr Lee is in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which formally opened on Thursday.
Details of the partnership are not yet clear, but the key idea behind it is to do something significant to mark the bicentennial.
"CONTINUITY" DESPITE BREXIT
During the meeting, both leaders agreed that the “continuity approach” would provide certainty in the lead up to the UK's impending withdrawal from the European Union, according to Singapore's Prime Minister’s Office.
This means that all external agreements EU signed with others will continue to apply to the UK during the implementation period - a transition period towards Brexit that is to last until December 2020.
They concurred that when ratified, the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement would be a good baseline for future bilateral trade relations, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Negotiations on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is the first trade deal to be implemented between the European Union and an ASEAN member state, concluded in October 2014.
The EU and Singapore have committed to work together towards the ratification of the deal by the end of this year. It is expected to be sent this month to the Council, and thereafter to the European Parliament for approval.
The EU’s top court had ruled last May 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.
PM Lee also welcomed the UK’s intention to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN, as well as doing more together to support the development of Commonwealth member states, including the rendering of technical assistance.