EU and Singapore confirm landmark trade agreement
The EU and Singapore have released details of what could be a hugely significant trade agreement.
Having originally drawn up the proposals in December 2012, the two sides have now signed the deal on a preliminary basis.
Around €1 billion worth of goods are sold between the EU and Singapore every week and this announcement could see the figure rise considerably in the coming years.
An in-depth economic analysis conducted by the Chief Economist Unit of the European Commission's Directorate General for Trade suggested that EU exports to Singapore could increase by €1.4 billion over ten years. At the same time, Singapore businesses are predicted to sell an extra €3.5 billion worth of goods in Europe.
The draft contract will now be translated into all 24 EU languages and will be submitted to the European Commission for formal approval.
Rupert Schlegelmilch, the EU's chief negotiator of this trade agreement, described the deal as one of the most comprehensive to ever be drawn up.
"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 and the EU, and their 1.1 billion citizens," he commented.
The EU signed a similar agreement with South Korea in 2011 and this latest deal could provide Europe with a platform to expand into other parts of Asia. Singapore is currently the EU's 13th largest trading partner and there are a number of European businesses with bases in the country.
Speaking in December 2012, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: "This agreement is key to unlocking the gateway to the [Southeast Asian] region and can be a catalyst for growth for EU exporters."
A number of different sectors will benefit from the tie-in, including IT, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. By cutting red tape, companies will not have to "double-test" their products when attempting to sell them in the other market, while businesses in the EU will also benefit from the expertise of their Singaporean counterparts and vice-versa.