Deutsch Presse Agentur | Tue, 06 Jul 2010
Trade talks between Singapore and EU well on track
Singapore — Trade negotiations between Singapore and the European Union are on track with an agreement expected by next year, an EU official said Tuesday.
The talks begin in March "are going pretty well," said the chief of the EU delegation to Singapore, Holger Standertskjold.
"Personally I think that we can finish some time early next year," he said.
"What we aim is to have also at least as open markets as our competitors," Standertskjold said, giving the United States and South Korea as examples. Both countries already signed trade pacts with Singapore.
Despite the European debt crisis, in 2009 the EU was Singapore’s top trading partner with bilateral trade at 86.8 billion Singapore dollars (62.32 billion US dollars), representing 11.6 per cent of the city-state’s total trade, according to the EU delegation.
Standertskjold said the bloc of 27 EU member countries also aimed to sign a trade deal with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Those talks have been complicated by the disparity in development levels between different ASEAN members, he said.
"Therefore, we started with Singapore," Standertskjold said, and noted that the EU was pursuing deals with Thailand and Malaysia.
Those bilateral agreements could then be "rolled into an ASEAN-wide agreement," he said.
ASEAN accounted for 5.1 per cent of the EU’s total external trade, ahead of Norway and Japan with shares of 4.6 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, according to EU statistics.