SINGAPORE, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran applauded here Wednesday the trade agreements between Singapore and the European Union following the European Parliament's vote on the same day.
Noting that the European Parliament's decision to consent to the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) will be hugely beneficial to the city-state and European citizens, the minister said that the agreements will bring the EU and Singapore closer together.
"This is an important milestone in Singapore's bilateral relations with the European Union. The EUSFTA and EUSIPA will bring strategic and economic benefits to both the EU and Singapore," Iswaran said in his statement.
The EU is Singapore's third largest trading partner and the world's largest single market, according to the minister.
The agreements will allow Singapore to benefit from the reduced tariffs and other barriers, the minister said.
Under the EUSFTA, up to 84 percent of Singapore exports will be able to enter into EU borders duty-free. By the third to fifth year, tariffs for the remaining products will be removed. Significantly, the agreement will allow Singapore companies to bid for more government procurement projects in the EU, including projects like railway services or telecommunication services.
Following the vote of approval, both the EU and Singapore can now undertake the necessary administrative processes to allow the EUSFTA to enter into force. The EUSIPA, being a mixed agreement, will be sent to regional and national parliaments of the EU member states for approval before being able to be ratified.
As Singapore is one member of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ratification of the agreements might indicate more.
"The two agreements are also strategic pathfinders to an eventual EU-ASEAN trade and investment agreement. They are a tangible demonstration of the EU and Singapore's shared commitment to open and rules-based trade, and will anchor the EU's presence in ASEAN," the minister said.