Singapore, EU free trade pact takes another step forward

The free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the European Union (EU) has moved one step closer towards ratification with the legal text being finalised on Friday.

This is an important agreement for both parties that will pave the way for improved trading links between the EU and all of Asean, said Singapore chief negotiator Keith Tan.

The agreement is Singapore's first bilateral FTA that includes an Asean cumulation concept, Mr Tan noted.

This means that Singapore manufacturers will be able to count the use of raw materials and parts sourced from other Asean member countries to determine whether their exports can enjoy tariff concessions.

The FTA also allows processed Asian food products made in Singapore such as chicken and pork floss, fish balls and crab balls to enter the EU tariff free with an annual quota.

The EU is Singapore's second-largest trading partner while Singapore is the EU's 13th largest trading partner globally.

After the initialling of the agreement on Friday, the text will be presented to the European Parliament for consent. Once the parliament ratifies the agreement it may enter into force by late 2014 or early 2015.