Trade and investment agreements with Singapore are the first bilateral agreements concluded by the EU with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Within ASEAN, Singapore is by far the EU`s largest partner, with a total of 53.3 billion euros (2017) and 44.4 billion euros in 2016. More than 10,000 EU companies are based in Singapore and use it as a hub for the entire Pacific. With these agreements, the EU has therefore taken an important step towards setting high standards and rules for the important and rapidly growing region of Southeast Asia. The agreements are also the first element of a future EU-ASEAN trade and investment agreement between the region and the regions. Singapore is already the leading European investment site in Asia, and investments in between have grown rapidly in recent years. Bilateral investment stocks reached 256 billion euros in 2016. The agreement with Japan is the largest bilateral trade partnership ever negotiated by the European Union and was a personal commitment of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. At a bilateral summit and on the sidelines of a G7 summit, the two heads of state and government made political leaders available at the highest level to accelerate and conclude negotiations in 2017.
The European Commission today presented to the Council the outcome of negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan and trade and investment agreements with Singapore. This is the first step towards signing and concluding these agreements. After approval by the Council, the agreements will be sent to the European Parliament with the aim of bringing into force trade agreements with Japan and Singapore before the current mandate of the European Commission expires in 2019. The Economic Partnership Agreement will provide both sides with huge market opportunities, strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in a number of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development and, for the first time, include a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement. This eliminates the vast majority of tariffs, which cost EU companies exporting to Japan one billion euros a year. The agreement will also remove a number of long-standing regulatory hurdles, such as dual controls and overlapping red tape. It will open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to the EU`s main agricultural exports, protect more than 200 traditional European food and drink products in Japan (the `geographic indications`) and increase EU export opportunities in a number of other sectors, including the ability for European companies to solicit public procurement in many Japanese cities. The Commission proposes to sign and conclude the agreements between Japan and Singapore before MEMO: key elements of the EU-Singapore trade and investment agreements, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “The step we are taking today paves the way for our businesses and our citizens to take advantage of the full potential of the economic partnership agreement with Japan as early as next year.