In an inaugural trade committee meeting on 7th December 2021 under the EU Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), the EU and Singapore agreed to strengthen bilateral partnerships on digital trade. The EUSFTA came into force on 21st November 2019.
The meeting was co-chaired by Valdis Dombrovskis, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and Trade Commissioner and S Iswaran, the Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations Singapore.
Discussions were held on the advancement of a comprehensive EU Singapore digital partnership and in a joint statement, the two deliberated on strengthening bilateral digital trade between EU and Singapore and assigned the EU and Singapore officials to resume technical discussions for identifying the digital trade elements.
It ushered in a strong bilateral trade partnership between the EU and Singapore into the digital future as a shared vision imprinted in the EUSFTA.
The partnership reached between the EU and Singapore is all set to enhance digital ties and promote bilateral trade and investments and provide benefits to the businesses and workers especially in the SME categories from opportunities in the world’s growing digital economy.
The joint announcement demonstrated the commitment of both the EU and Singapore to actively participate in digital economy partnerships. The recent EU strategy on Indo Pacific also highlighted its interest to explore and expand the Digital Partnership network with Singapore.
The Southeast Asian digital economy is projected to grow by more than 3 times between 2020 and 2025 and this agreement confirmed the undisputed leadership of Singapore in the technology and digital space that could pave the way for EU companies in the region’s fast-growing market.
EU Singapore digital partnership would also be supportive and complimentary for the continuing e-commerce negotiation initiatives of the WTO and help set digital trade rules in the world.
Strong bilateral trade relations between the EU and Singapore was reaffirmed by the Co-chairs as was evident from the annual goods and services trade figure exceeding €100 billion in 2020 between the EU and Singapore. Noteworthy, it happened at a time when the international trade suffered most due to the pandemic but EUSFTA generated business consistently.
Regional and global trade developments were discussed and the Co-Chairs also shared their views on measures to enhance economic recovery during the post-pandemic.
The latest EUSFTA implementation status was also reviewed including the Trade and Sustainable Development Board meeting that had successfully commenced earlier than scheduled. Issues on labour and fundamental ILO conventions were reviewed too. Green economy cooperation was also a matter of discussion and review in this meeting.
The Co-chairs recognizing the strong economic cooperation between the EU and Singapore in diverse areas also agreed to work together and provide support towards climate change and environmental protection initiatives.