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Singapore looks towards provisional application of FTA with EU

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Singapore hopes to have a proposed free-trade pact with the European Union (EU) partially enforced as the deal awaits national and sub-national approval from the regional bloc's 28 member states.

SINGAPORE hopes to have a proposed free-trade pact with the European Union (EU) partially enforced as the deal awaits national and sub-national approval from the regional bloc's 28 member states.

The top EU court ruled on Tuesday that the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) cannot fully enter force until ratified by all EU countries.

The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union comes almost four years after the European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, said that it would seek legal clarity on whether it can ratify the EUSFTA on its own.

In response to queries from The Business Times following the EU court ruling, a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry said: "Singapore is committed to working with the European Commission to ratify the EUSFTA expeditiously and have it provisionally applied so that businesses can utilise the parts of the agreement that are under the EU's exclusive competence.

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"Singapore respects the internal processes of the European Union and looks forward to the formal entry-into-force of the EUSFTA as soon as all EU member states have ratified provisions under their competence."

According to the court ruling, this means that a big part of the agreement can still be put in force by the EU alone.

Only two aspects of the EUSFTA require national ratification. One is in the field of non-direct foreign investment, or "portfolio" investments made without any intention to influence the management and control of an undertaking. The other is the regime governing dispute settlement between investors and member states.

There are about 38 national and sub-national parliaments in the EU. A recent deal between the EU and Canada was nearly scuppered by parliamentary objections in Wallonia, the mainly French-speaking part of Belgium, says a BBC report. The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will take effect provisionally in the coming weeks, but full implementation still requires the approval of all parliaments in the EU - national and regional.

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