Singapore hopes trade pact with Europe can be ratified by May

President Tony Tan Keng Yam speaking to reporters in Bratislava, at the end of a seven-day state visit to Hungary and the Slovak Republic. With him are (clockwise from President) non-resident Ambassador to the Slovak Republic Jennie Chua, Minister fo
President Tony Tan Keng Yam speaking to reporters in Bratislava, at the end of a seven-day state visit to Hungary and the Slovak Republic. With him are (clockwise from President) non-resident Ambassador to the Slovak Republic Jennie Chua, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Culture, Community and Youth Sam Tan, Members of Parliament Penny Low and David Ong, and the President's Principal Private Secretary Lee Kok Fatt. -- PHOTO: MCI

Singapore has been lobbying for the swift ratification of a major trade pact with the European Union because missing the deadline of May next year means having "to start the whole process again", President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Tuesday in Bratislava.

He was speaking to Singapore media at the end of a seven-day state visit to Hungary and the Slovak Republic, which was in part to seek support for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA).

Negotiations have been completed and Singapore hopes the pact can be ratified by the European Parliament before its current session ends in May next year. Otherwise, the formation of a new Parliament will cause delays and mean that the ratification process has to begin afresh.

The EUSFTA is important as Europe has good long-term prospects despite its recent difficulties, and remains important to Singapore, said Dr Tan.

He added that the two nations he visited are also interesting markets for Singapore firms, as they are advanced economies yet have competitive wages and costs.

Besides economics, Singapore can deepen its ties with the two Central and East European countries in areas such as research, education and cultural exchange, said Dr Tan, who visited each country's respective Academy of Sciences during his trip.