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S’pore, EU launch FTA talks

Straits Times | Mar 3, 2010

S’pore, EU launch FTA talks

SINGAPORE and the European Union (EU) will launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to create new trade and investment opportunities.

The first round of talks is scheduled to take place in Singapore from March 8 to 12, said a joint statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry here and the European Commission on Tuesday.

The talks were officially launched by visiting EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang on Tuesday.

Said Commissioner De Gucht: ’The proposed free-trade agreement will strengthen economic ties between Singapore and the EU, provide new opportunities for traders and consumers alike, and contribute to generating growth in our economies. For Europe, it will also mark an important stepping-stone in the EU’s engagement with the Asean region.’

Mr Lim added: ’The EU is an important economic partner of Singapore. This FTA is a major undertaking and when concluded, will further strengthen the excellent economic relations between Singapore and the EU. Singapore looks forward to working closely with the EU to develop an ambitious agreement that will benefit businesses from both sides.’

At their meeting, both expressed the commitment of Singapore and the EU to work towards an expeditious conclusion of a high-quality FTA. Both sides also agreed to continue to work closely at the World Trade Organisation, and in particular to advance the conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations.

Singapore and the EU enjoy close economic ties, which will be boosted by the bilateral FTA. The EU is Singapore’s largest trading partner and foreign investor. Bilateral trade exceeded 55 billion euro in 2008. Conversely, Singapore is the EU’s 15th largest trading partner and largest trading partner among Asean states. Both sides also enjoy robust bilateral investment ties. Over the years, Singapore and the EU have invested over 100 billion euro in each other’s economies.

 source: Straits Times