EU signs trade agreement with Singapore

The EU was to sign a trade agreement with Singapore on Friday during the two-day EU-Asia meeting in order to further signal the EU's push for open market accords with Asian countries. The meeting brings together leaders from the EU, Switzerland and Norway and 21 Asian counterparts

“There are important themes on which we must work - first the fight against climate change, secondly we must push for fair and free trade, which has been cast into doubt by some in the world,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

After a dinner on Thursday, sessions on improving connectivity and the multilateral system and a host of bilateral meetings will conclude on Friday with EU leaders and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signing an agreement eight years in the making.

Singapore has been made to wait. Negotiations ended in 2014, but as protests mounted against other trade accords, such as one planned with the United States and one struck with Canada, the deal was sent for approval to the European Court of Justice

The Commission hopes the agreement, which still requires backing by the European Parliament, will take effect next year. It would likely follow a larger free trade agreement the EU plans with Japan and would be the EU’s first trade agreement with a member of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The EU remains interested in a deal with ASEAN, after talks were shelved in 2009. In the meantime, EU negotiators have agreed a trade accord with Vietnam, are in negotiations with Indonesia and have held talks with three other ASEAN members.

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