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Ministers Humphreys and Breen welcome signature of EU-Singapore Free Trade and Investment Protection Agreements

The European Union and Singapore will today, 19th October 2018, officially sign the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at the ASEM Summit in Brussels, in addition they will also sign an Investment Protection Agreement.

The Free Trade Agreement with Singapore is the first FTA to be signed between the EU and a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ASEAN region is the EU's third largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China. The EU-Singapore FTA is a significant step towards the longer-term goal of a region-to-region Agreement between the EU and ASEAN.

Commenting on the signature of the Agreements, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said:
“Ireland has been firmly supportive of this Free Trade Agreement and the economic benefits it will offer us. Strong exports are essential to the continued growth of the Irish economy and the agreement will eliminate nearly all duties paid by Irish firms exporting to Singapore and will simplify customs procedures, helping to open up new market opportunities for our firms in one of the strongest economies in Asia. Irish exports to Singapore are currently worth in the region of €2.4bn a year. Services exports are particularly strong having more than doubled since 2012 and the trade agreement will increase market access creating opportunities for that growth to continue.”

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD also welcomed the Agreements:
“Singapore is an important trading partner for Ireland and the signing of this Free Trade Agreement will strengthen our relationship. During an Enterprise Ireland/IDA Trade Mission to Singapore last year, a number of Irish businesses, including those in the med-tech, education, and industrial machinery sectors, confirmed significant agreements with Singapore-based partners. The EU-Singapore FTA will increase the ability of Irish firms to compete for more lucrative export business in the dynamic Singaporean economy helping them to grow and create more jobs. In tandem with this, the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement will be an important new addition to our already strong foreign direct investment offering that will further encourage investment and grow employment”.

The EU-Singapore FTA will eliminate nearly all import duties on EU-Singapore trade within five years of its entry into force. The agreement will also address non-tariff barriers to trade through measures such as better facilitation of exports of EU animal products. The FTA will benefit Irish companies producing electronics, certain green technologies, and pharmaceuticals, by enabling their goods to be recognised and approved more swiftly and easily. The agreement will also provide opportunities for Irish-based service providers, in particular providers of financial services, through greater market access.

The Investment Protection Agreement between the EU and Singapore aims to improve the investment climate and encourage FDI investment by offering more certainty to investors in the EU and in Singapore. The IPA contains provisions to ensure that investors are not subject to discriminatory treatment and will support Irish companies to continue to establish and grow businesses in Singapore through the provision of a set of modern and reformed investment dispute resolution mechanisms.

Irish-owned SMEs are already developing strong trade links with Singapore and this trade is growing steadily. Today, more than 130 Irish SMEs have a presence in Singapore. Enterprise Ireland is working closely with companies on the ground to grow their businesses and Bord Bia opened an office in Singapore in 2016 to increase Irish exports of agri-food products to Singapore. Exports of dairy products increased by 92% between 2016 and 2017. The FTA will support continued growth of Irish trade with Singapore through the elimination of tariffs and other barriers to trade.

Ends

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance, including through its work on trade negotiations, facilitation and promotion. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

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Note to Editors:

After signature at today’s Summit, the Free Trade Agreement will be sent for ratification to the European and Singaporean parliaments with the aim of enabling the deal into come into force in early 2019.

The Investment Protection Agreement will require ratification by all EU member states as well as by the European and Singaporean parliaments before its measures can come into force.

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