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European Union, Singapore a step closer to signing free trade agreement

IN the first step towards signing and concluding the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), the European Commission has presented the outcome of the negotiations to the European Council.

The initialled agreement now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers and ratified by the European Parliament.

The aim is for the EUSFTA to come into force before the European Commission's mandate ends in 2019, said the EU delegation to Singapore in a statement on Thursday.

European Union Ambassador to Singapore Barbara Plinkert said that as the first deal between the EU and a South-east Asian economy, the EUSFTA is a stepping stone towards greater engagement between the regions, she added.

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Over 10,000 EU companies have a presence in Singapore, with Singapore also being the top South-east Asian destination for European investments.

Negotiations for the EUSFTA began in 2009 and concluded in 2014. Besides liberalising tariffs, reducing non-tariff trade barriers and promoting services and investment, the EUSFTA will also give improved access to government procurement opportunities.