The EU and Singapore took trade relations to a new level on 19 October 2018, when they signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Brussels.
Singapore is the EU’s largest ASEAN trading partner, with total bilateral trade in goods and services currently reaching almost € 100 billion. The FTA is expected to enter into force in 2019 and will remove all remaining tariffs on products originating in the EU. This new generation FTA is the first one of its kind signed between the EU and an ASEAN country.
“The trade agreement will open up new opportunities for European producers, workers, farmers and consumers, mirroring what this Commission has delivered with other like-minded partners across the world.” – Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
With the EU and Singapore moving closer together as strategic partners, a pilot of the EU Business Avenues in South East Asia Programme was launched in 2014-2015, to help European companies establish long lasting business collaboration in the region. It has now been followed by a fully-fledged edition of the Programme from 2016 to 2020, which will organise a total of 20 EU-funded business missions for 1,000 European companies. Business missions are a great way to explore the market: dedicated teams in Europe and South East Asia help European companies sound out business opportunities, pre-arrange meetings with targeted potential partners in South East Asia and provide hands-on coaching.
The EU-Singapore FTA facilitates trade in goods in a number of sectors such as food products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, while stimulating green growth. It opens the market for services like telecommunications, environmental services and engineering. EU Business Avenues in South East Asia builds on these areas to target key sectors to European companies in Singapore and the neighbouring countries: Organic Food & Beverage, Healthcare & Medical Technologies, Green Energy Technologies, ICT, Environment & Water Technologies and Construction & Building Technologies.
One of the EU priorities is to ensure better access for European companies to the fast-moving ASEAN market, and the EU-Singapore FTA (Free Trade Agreement) is just the first of many future trade agreements in the region. Indeed, the EU has already started bilateral talks with Malaysia (2010), Thailand (2013), the Philippines (2015), Indonesia (2016). Finally, EU and Vietnam have recently agreed on final text for the FTA (2018), which is now pending signature.
As of 2018, over 10,000 European companies do business in Singapore and use the country as a hub to serve the region. EU Business Avenues in South East Asia mirrors this approach and matches with the EU priorities: missions go to Singapore first, and then visit another ASEAN country among Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. The business mission calendar for 2019 is already confirmed and includes:
- Environment & Water Technologies
Singapore & the Philippines 17-22 Mar. 2019, apply by 17 Jan. 2019
- Information & Communication Technologies
Singapore & Thailand 17-22 June 2019, apply by 1 Mar. 2019
- Healthcare & Medical Technologies
Singapore & Vietnam 29 July - 3 Aug. 2019, apply by 12 Apr. 2019
- Organic Food & Beverage
Singapore & Thailand 1-7 Sep. 2019, apply by 17 May 2019
- Construction & Building Technologies
Singapore & Philippines 3-9 Nov. 2019, apply by 21 June 2019