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Singapore | Brussels, 2 March 2018

Commissioner Malmström visits Singapore to advance EU economic ties with South East Asia

Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is in Singapore to attend the annual consultations today between the EU Trade Commissioner and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers.

As part of her visit, this morning the Commissioner delivered a keynote speech at the EU-ASEAN Business Summit, involving representatives of European business in the region.

Commissioner Malmström said: "It is no news that as a mood of protectionism takes hold in some places, the EU looks to its friends in Asia more and more. Friends who see the value of open economies. As a key economic pillar of the region, ASEAN is a natural partner."

On the timing of the EU-Singapore free trade agreement, she added: "In mid-April, the European Commission hopes to submit it for final approval, and after that it will be in the hands of our Parliament. We hope that it can be in force by the end of the year"

As part of the consultations, the Commissioner also discussed with her ASEAN partners ways to strengthen the EU-ASEAN trade and investment relations and enhance partnership on global issues at the multilateral level. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to uphold free and open trade, and support for a rules-based, transparent, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system.

Commissioner Malmström also discussed the preparatory work for an EU-ASEAN trade agreement, including the progress made towards agreeing on a framework for future negotiations.

This morning in her speech prior to the consultations, she said: "The EU-ASEAN working group is looking at a region-to-region free trade agreement. There was not yet a lot of progress and more work lies ahead if we want to lay solid foundations for a resumption of the actual negotiations between our regions. But building consensus is a long-term process. It will take time. We understand this and are committed to building a partnership."

The consultations were co-chaired by Commissioner Malmström and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, Chair of ASEAN in 2018.
A joint media statement from the EU and ASEAN can be found below.

In addition, the two-day trip included individual meetings with various ASEAN counterparts to discuss bilateral issues, including ongoing trade negotiations.
Finally, the Commissioner also announced a new €9 million pilot project on responsible supply chains with key partners in the region.

 

More information

Commissioner Malmstrom's speech, ASEAN Business Conference, 2 March

Joint EU-ASEAN Media Statement

Factsheet: responsible supply chains in Asia

EU trade relations with Singapore

EU trade relations with ASEAN