SINGAPORE - Despite the impact of Covid-19 on global trade, European Union (EU) imports from Singapore saw a 12 per cent increase in the first six months since the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) came into force.
The EU Delegation to Singapore said in a statement on Thursday (Aug 6) that this increase contrasts with total EU imports, which fell by 10.6 per cent in the same period of December 2019 to May 2020.
EU merchandise imports from Singapore amounted to 9.7 billion euros (S$15.8 billion) during the six-month period, with organic chemicals and pharmaceutical products being the two main product categories imported into the EU from the Republic.
However, EU exports to Singapore decreased by 16 per cent to 12.5 billion euros from December 2019 to May 2020, compared with the same period a year ago, because of the negative effect of Covid-19 on the trade in goods.
The EUSFTA came into effect on Nov 21, 2019.
The EU removed 84 per cent of all its tariffs for goods originating in Singapore, with additional tariff reductions for the remaining 16 per cent, while Singapore eliminated the last remaining tariffs for alcoholic beverages originating in the EU.
Beer exports from the region to Singapore grew by 20 per cent since the free trade agreement kicked in, the statement noted.
EU Ambassador to Singapore Barbara Plinkert said that the expansion of imports in EU from Singapore demonstrates "a clear evidence of the benefits of the EUSFTA on tariff reduction and elimination for Singapore exports to the EU, despite the challenging conditions for international trade and supply chains since the outbreak of the current pandemic".
She encouraged companies, and especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to further tap the benefits of the agreement.
The statement from the EU Delegation to Singapore noted that the Republic has yet to make use of the annual quota for goods with specialised rules of origin stipulated in the EUSFTA.
Singapore has not yet exported any Asian food products, such as sambal ikan bilis, samosas or dumplings, to the EU by using the 1,250 tonnes annual quota since the agreement came into effect.
Under the EUSFTA, Singaporean and EU companies are provided preferential access for trade in goods, services and public procurement in each other's markets.
The agreement also includes provisions on customs, trade facilitation and intellectual property protection, while eliminating trade barriers and strengthening commitments on sustainable development through the protection of labour rights and the environment.