Singapore-European Union Conclude Free Trade Agreement

SingaporeSingapore concluded an agreement with the European Union (EU) this weekend in a deal that will grant both parties improved access to each other’s markets. Singapore is the first Southeast Asian nation to conclude such a deal, with the agreement seeing the EU eliminating tariffs on all imports from Singapore over a five-year period. The FTA will remove 80% of all Singapore-EU tariffs, with exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed foods benefiting the most. The Government procurement will be affected both sides making extensive commitments guarantee access to the other’s services markets, good news also for the financial services industry. Singapore is the Southeast Asia’s largest EU trade partner after Malaysia, and accounted for roughly US$106 billion worth of trade last year, which was a 7% growth over 2010. Analysts are already heralding the agreement as a milestone, saying it paves the way for a region-to-region FTA between EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These negotiations have been on hold since 2009 to allow the both sides to further evaluate their positions. “Singapore is a dynamic market for the EU companies and is a vital hub for doing business across Southeast Asia,” commented EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who held discussions with Singaporean Minister of Trade+Industry Lim Hng Kiang on Sunday. “This agreement is key to unlocking the gateway to the region and can be a catalyst for growth for the EU exporters.” Lim responded with similar sentiments, saying he believed this agreement would open up trade agreements with other ASEAN nations. Lowering barriers to trade movements has been an increasing trend across Southeast Asia as countries hope to boost local economies. For example, China, Japan, and South Korea agreed to launch trade negotiations in May of this year, and South Korea and the EU entered into a free trade agreement in July of last year. The EU is currently conducting trade negotiations with Vietnam and Malaysia. The Singapore-EU FTA is still awaiting ratification by politicians on the both sides. (source: – 18/12/2012)


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2 Responses to Singapore-European Union Conclude Free Trade Agreement

  1. Immigration is a hot-button issue nearly everywhere in the world, though the contours of the debate vary from place to place. In the United States, sweeping changes to the law may offer legal residency for millions of people who have entered the country illegally, my colleague Ashley Parker reports. In Singapore, the debate looks somewhat different: The government plans to increase the population from just more than five million to a possible high of nearly seven million by 2030, via regulated, legal immigration, and this is provoking opposition. So much so that on Saturday, about 3,000 people turned out for what some commentators said was one of the biggest demonstrations in the nation’s history. (If the number seems small, it reflects the tight political control exerted over Singapore life by the People’s Action Party, which has run the country for about half a century and discourages public protest.) What are the contours of the debate in Singapore? Concern over booming immigration, often focused on new arrivals from increasingly rich China, has been simmering in the nation, with many feeling that the immigrants do not play by the same rules, that their manners are poor and that they are pushing up prices. That feeling crystallized last year when a wealthy Chinese man driving a Ferrari at high speed killed three people (including himself) in a nighttime accident. (Similar sentiments are found in Hong Kong, as my colleagues Bettina Wassener and Gerry Mullany wrote.) Vividly illustrating the resentment, Singaporeans sometimes call the wealthy immigrants “rich Chinese locusts,” according to an article in the Economic Observer’s Worldcrunch.

    So the Singapore government’s Population White Paper that passed in Parliament earlier this month, just before Chinese New Year, was bound to stir things up

    (…..) In a blog post on Singapore News Alternative, Nicole Seah, a politician who has run for Parliament and comments on social issues, wrote: “Along with many other Singaporeans, I oppose the White Paper.” Why? She is looking for “a society that lives in harmony, rather than tense and overcrowded conditions,” she writes. “Not the Singapore Inc. that has been aggressively forced down our throats the past few years – a Singapore which is in danger of becoming a transient state where people from all over, come, make their fortunes, and leave.” Not “a Singapore that has become a playground for the rich and the people who can afford it. A Singapore where the middle class is increasingly drowned out because they do not have the social clout or sufficient representatives in Parliament to voice their concerns.”

    Ms. Seah’s statements raise an interesting question: Is this part of a phenomenon that the columnist Chrystia Freeland has written about so ably for this newspaper, the ascendancy of a wealthy, “plutocrat” class and the slipping status of the middle class? As Ms. Freeland wrote last week: “The most important fact about the United States in this century is that middle-class incomes are stagnating. The financial crisis has revealed an equally stark structural problem in much of Europe.” Is it hitting Asia, too, and does Singapore’s protest speak, at least in part, to this? Hong Kong’s dissatisfaction too?

  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: During my last trip to Singapore, I witnessed an interesting scene. A young Singaporean couple sat next to us in a trendy restaurant at Raffles Shopping Center. They asked for some expensive dishes but barely touched the food and left. I left the island under the impression that the Singapore of the past is no more.


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