Mr. Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Finland, published an official statement regarding The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Singapore, which enters into force on 21 November 2019.
“Singapore offers interesting business opportunities for Finnish companies’ areas of strength, such as health care and services for elders, digitalisation and renewable energy,” it says.
“This is the first bilateral trade agreement between the EU and an ASEAN country. Its entry into force lays the foundation for strengthening the EU’s trade agreement network in Southeast Asia.”
The agreement will dismantle technical trade obstacles, remove customs duties and open opportunities for both service trade and the public procurement market. The parties to the agreement also undertake to maintain and promote the norms concerning the environment and working life.
At the moment, around one-half of imports of Singaporean products to the EU area are duty-free. As the agreement comes into force, the EU will immediately exempt 80 per cent of imports from Singapore. Trade will be exempt from duties almost fully after the transition periods of 3–5 years.
Singapore is an open economy, and it already applies exemption from customs duty to the majority of commodities in goods trade. However, the Free Trade Agreement guarantees commitment to exemption from customs duty, in addition to which Singapore has undertaken to remove nearly all the remaining customs duties at the latest within five years.
Service trade accounts for about 75 per cent of Singapore’s economy. Opportunities for increasing service trade can be considered the most important achievements of the agreement. Singapore will open its markets in several export branches important for Finland, such as construction services, IT services and research and development services. In addition, the agreement opens up new possibilities for exports of environmental services.
The Free Trade Agreement increases opportunities for market access by including new procurement units in the agreement and by lowering the threshold values of open tender competitions. The agreement also improves the transparency of Singapore’s procurement procedures.
Singapore is the biggest trading partner for Finland and the EU in Southeast Asia. In 2018, the value of Finland’s goods exports totalled EUR 186 million and the value of imports was EUR 167 million. Services exports amounted to EUR 361 million and the value of imports was EUR 266 million.