The EU and Singapore Close to Finishing Trade Deal

Most comprehensive deal between two regions

The European Union and the Singapore government submitted for approval for the world’s most in-depth trade agreement, with the EU taking steps toward a wider deal that could span the entire Southeast Asia region.

The European Union is looking to open the door to the region with a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations that will hopefully start toward a goal of economic integration by 2015.

“In the long term we want to have an agreement with all the 600 million ASEAN consumers and with all the countries of ASEAN and beyond, this is the first milestone,” Rupert Schlegelmilch, chief EU negotiator for the pact, said in Singapore where both sides initialed the roughly 1,000-page document.

Singapore now holds a population of five million, yet still accounts for over a third of all EUASEAN trade, which is more than 60% of the total investment in SE-Asia region. It also hosts more than 9,000 European companies, which lays out some strong reason to handle a comprehensive agreement between the regions.

Trade has been strong between the two, topping a 52 billion euros tally in 2012 with 28 billion in services in 2011. Mutual investment currently has totaled 190 billion euros overall.

Currently, Singapore has one of the largest oil refining centers and the agreement is sure to add incentive to export of petroleum in the region. That will add a large influx of product from Singapore to the EU through a reduction of tariff trade frees and barriers.

European banks, as well as insurers within the SE-Asian country, will have stronger opportunity for benefiting from retail. It will ensure the right to sell directly to consumers or establish branches with the promise of stronger transparency by the industry.

“We made a very determined effort to go as far as we can in liberalising further what our banks and insurances companies can do, we were quite successful in that respect,” said Schlegelmilch.

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