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Negotiations for EU-Singapore FTA draw to close, implementation now pushed beyond 2016

WHILE negotiations for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) have come to a close with the completion of the legal scrubbing of the Investment Protection Chapter (IPC), the EUSFTA is now expected to enter into force beyond 2016.

It was initially expected to do so by end this year.

"This is due to the European Commission's decision to request for a European Court of Justice (ECJ) opinion on its competencies and mandate with regard to the EUSFTA," Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a press release.

When the IPC comes into force as part of the EUSFTA, it will replace the 12 existing Bilateral Investment Treaties between Singapore and various EU member states that were concluded over the past 40 years. The IPC introduces key innovations such as more precise investment protection standards and new rules on the conduct of arbitration.

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The EUSFTA - which is expected to boost bilateral trade and investment relations between Singapore and the EU - is the first FTA concluded between the EU and an Asean country. It is also a step towards a potential EU-Asean FTA.

It will enhance access for Singaporean and European firms to each other's markets via commitments such as improved market access for services and government procurement, enhanced intellectual property protection and reduction of technical barriers to trade.

In 2013, the EU was Singapore's largest investor, with nearly S$228 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) stock - more than a quarter of the total stock of FDI in Singapore.