EU imports from Singapore up 12% despite pandemic

The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement came into force on Nov 21, 2019.
The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement came into force on Nov 21, 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on global trade, European Union 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 yesterday that this increase contrasts with total EU imports, which fell by 10.6 per cent in the same period of December to May.

EU merchandise imports from Singapore amounted to €9.7 billion (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 from December to May, compared with the same period a year ago, owing to the negative effect of Covid-19 on the trade in goods.

The EUSFTA came into force on Nov 21 last year.

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 have grown by 20 per cent since the trade agreement kicked in, the statement noted.

EU Ambassador to Singapore Barbara Plinkert said 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 EU delegation to Singapore statement also noted that Singapore has yet to make use of the annual quota for goods with specialised rules of origin stipulated in the EUSFTA.

The Republic has not yet exported any Asian food products, such as sambal ikan bilis, samosas and dumplings, to the EU by using the annual quota of 1,250 tonnes since the agreement came into effect.

Choo Yun Ting

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2020, with the headline 'EU imports from S'pore up 12% despite pandemic'. Print Edition | Subscribe