PM Lee and other EU leaders look on as Dr Vivian Balakrishnan sign the European Union-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (ESPCA) together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. The Agremeent will complement the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and strengthen cooperation between both sides in many other areas like environment, science and R&D and transport. (Photo: MCI)

After eight years, Singapore and the EU finalise the EUSFTA. Longstanding economic partners, ASEAN and the EU, agreed to step up regional and international cooperation, not just on trade and economic issues, but on security matters as well. PM Lee also stated, “We are also exploring resuming negotiations for an ASEAN-EU FTA. The EUSFTA signed can be a pathfinder to this”

ON Friday 19 October 2018, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signed, together with his counterparts from the European Union (EU), President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), as well as the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The ceremony took place in Brussels in the margins of the Asia Europe Meeting.

ASEM group photo – its 53 Asian and European partners represent 65% of the world’s GDP. (Photo: MCI / Chwee)

The signing was one of the highlight of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Brussels, Belgium for the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit from 18 to 19 October 2018.

According to a release by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PM Lee spoke first at the second Plenary Session on “Reinforcing the Multilateral System: Advancing the ASEM Partnership on Global Issues”. PM Lee highlighted the importance of sustaining a strong multilateral framework which all countries, big or small, would benefit from. PM Lee also spoke at the Retreat session on cybersecurity where he emphasized the importance of rules and norms in cyberspace which is a global commons.

On the sidelines of the ASEM Summit, PM Lee signed the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, Presidency of the Council of the European Union Sebastian Kurz and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. PM Lee also witnessed the signing of the EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement between Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Austria, Presidency of the Council of the European Union Nikolaus Marschik and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Once ratified, the agreements will enhance Singapore and the EU’s bilateral relations, including trade and investment links.

PM Lee also co-chaired an ASEAN-EU Leaders Meeting (AELM). Singapore is the current ASEAN Chair as well as coordinator for ASEAN-EU dialogue relations. The AELM reaffirmed the longstanding and multifaceted relationship between ASEAN and the EU, discussed regional and international developments of mutual concern, and reiterated a shared interest in upholding multilateralism and the international trading system. Both sides agreed to further strengthen ASEAN-EU cooperation across all areas and on shared global challenges, in order to contribute to efforts to maintain regional peace and prosperity.

PM Lee also met on the sidelines with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, United Kingdom PM Theresa May, Portuguese PM Antonio Costa, Finnish PM Juha Sipilä, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

See also: Click here for the Interview with Barbara Plinkert on the Impact of the EUSFTA

ABOUT ASEM  ASEM was established in 1996 and was conceived by then-PM Goh Chok Tong as a platform to strengthen links between Asia and Europe. Today, it comprises 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries who together make up 65% of the world’s GDP.