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The EU and Singapore: strong partners for open, fair and free trade
IN times of the current global economic recession caused by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, of uncertainties linked to the multilateral trading system and of geopolitical tensions, the European Union (EU) and Singapore stand together as strong partners to promote free, fair and open trade.
On Nov 21, 2019, the landmark EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) came into force, showing both parties' determination to strengthen the foundations of our solid economic ties.
Together with the EU's trade agreements with South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, it demonstrates the EU's strong commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, and South-east Asia in particular, as part of a global network of 77 countries trading with the EU under bilaterally agreed preferential conditions.
In these challenging times, companies - especially small and medium-sized ones - need a clear framework and rules to be able to fully tap into the benefits of trade agreements and so contribute to economic growth and job creation.
The EUSFTA ensures preferential market access for European and Singaporean companies in each other's markets.
It opens up trade in goods and services, offers increased opportunities for government procurement and eliminates unnecessary barriers to trade.
While the pandemic has sent shockwaves through our societies, economies and industries, we also need global partners to speed up the economic recovery so that we can achieve sustainable growth and facilitate long-term investments in new technologies and infrastructure.
The EU is determined to fully embrace the green and digital transitions to build up economic resilience and boost future opportunities.
We are also keen to work together with like-minded countries such as Singapore to build international alliances to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Further to the commitments on trade and sustainable development embedded in the EUSFTA, the EU and Singapore are keen to step up global efforts for a sustainable economic order.
As driving members of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance - a grouping of 14 members representing 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, 50 per cent of the world population and 45 per cent of global GDP - the EU and Singapore recognise the need to mobilise much more private capital towards environmentally sustainable investments as part of the recovery.
At the same time, we need to reform the rules-based system of global economic governance, while putting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and climate change at the core of multilateralism, and responding to the digital revolution, harnessing the full potential of the free flow of data.
Restoring economic activities, global value chains and connectivity ties in a post-pandemic world will be key for companies, especially smaller businesses, to continue to fully benefit from the opportunities presented by our bilateral trade agreement with Singapore.
As part of our efforts to help small businesses, we have just launched a new, free and fresh online portal, called Access2Markets, to help European and non-European companies navigate the world of international trade.
As we celebrate the first anniversary of the EUSFTA, we are aware of the challenges ahead, but stand ready to deepen our economic and trade partnership with Singapore in a sustainable manner, to the benefit of all, towards a bright future.
- Valdis Dombrovskis is European Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People.