International Agreements in Progress: EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement - Stimulus for negotiations in the region

Briefing 15-06-2017

Singapore is the first member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and second Asian economy after South Korea to have concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, in October 2014. Moreover, this is the first comprehensive FTA negotiated and finalised by the EU after the Treaty of Lisbon came into effect. As a 'new generation' trade agreement, the EU-Singapore FTA (EUSFTA) in many aspects goes further than current World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. Moreover, not only does the agreement provide improved access to the Singaporean market, it is also beneficial for European companies operating from Singapore across the Southeast Asian region. Following the conclusion of the EUSFTA negotiations, the Commission sought an opinion from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) on the allocation of competences between the EU and the Member States. On 16 May 2017, the CJEU issued its opinion, stating that the EUSFTA also covers shared competences. As the EUSFTA is considered a model for successive new generation EU FTAs, the CJEU’s opinion is extremely relevant for all ongoing FTA negotiations and pending agreements.