EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement
The agreement removes customs duties and bureaucracy that European firms face when exporting to Singapore. It also removes other trade obstacles and improves trade in key goods like electronics, food products and pharmaceuticals. The agreement also opens up Singapore’s market for EU services exports, for example in transport and telecoms.
The agreement at a glance
The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) entered into force on 21 November 2019. See the full text and annexes of the agreement.
The EU and Singapore have also signed an Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA). It will enter into force after its ratification by all EU Member States, according to their own national procedures.
What are the benefits for your business?
The EUSFTA comes with significant benefits for businesses, including
- increased market access for EU businesses in Singapore and vice-versa
- less burdensome technical rules
- the removal of duplicative testing for certain products
- customs procedures and rules of origin that facilitate trade
- protection of intellectual property rights, including geographical indications (GIs) - special regional food and drink products, such as Parma ham and Irish whiskey
- new opportunities in environmental services and green public tendering
- the removal of obstacles to trade and investment in green technologies
How will the trade agreement benefit the EU's farming communities?
Before the trade agreement, Singapore had zero duties on imports of all agri-food products except for beer. At the entry into force of the agreement, Singapore also eliminated all its remaining tariffs on beer, stout and samsu.
The agreement recognises and protects geographical indications for wines, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs which are originating in the territories of the EU or Singapore.
Also, measures foreseen under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary part of the agreement aim to protect human, animal and plant life and health. Such measures refer to the recognition of low/free pest or disease areas and ensure the transparency and exchange of information and the avoidance of trade barriers.
Singapore has very little agricultural land so it meets its food needs with imports.
Its agricultural production is small-scale and limited to
- certain fruit (mainly durians and rambutans)
In 2019, the EU-27 exported €1.9 billion of agri-food products to Singapore, more than double 10 years earlier. Today, Singapore is the EU's 5th largest agri-food export market in Asia and its 18th worldwide.
How big is the Singaporean market? How much trade does the EU do with Singapore?
With a population of 5.6 million people, Singapore is a key trade, transport and financial hub in Asia. Having an extensive network of trade agreements with over 30 partners, the country trades more than €550 billion with the rest of the world every year.
For the EU, Singapore is the 14th largest trade in goods partner in the world and the first one in Southeast Asia (SEA). Having a deeply service-orientated economy, Singapore is also the EU's 5th largest trade in services partner worldwide.
With more than 10,000 European companies that set up their offices/regional hubs in Singapore, the country became the EU’s 6th global destination for outbound direct investment and accounts for two-thirds of EU’s direct investment stock in SEA.
For exports to Singapore
Before the agreement, almost all goods originating in the EU could already enter Singapore free of customs duties. Since the entry into force of the agreement, Singapore is bound to apply duty free access to all goods originating from the EU, including those that were formerly subject to tariffs (such as beer and stout).
For imports into the EU
As of 21 November 2019, approximately 84% of imports from Singapore to the EU enter duty-free.
Examples of sectors that benefit from the immediate elimination of customs duties include
- most petrochemicals (certain tariffs on petrochemicals will only be phased out after 3 years)
- processed agricultural products (with the exception of chemically pure fructose and sweet corn)
Nearly all remaining customs duties applying to Singaporean goods entering the EU will be phased out before November 2024.
The EU will continue to apply tariffs on a few products even after the end of the phase out period, including on some fish products (Tilapia, Skipjack) and processed agriculture, as well as chemically pure fructose and sweet corn.
The trade agreement describes the staging categories for the dismantling of tariffs over 5 years in detail in Annex 2-A of the agreement.
You can find the tariff dismantling schedule for your specific product in My Trade Assistant.
Rules of origin
In order to qualify for preferential treatment, your product will need to satisfy the rules of origin under the agreement. Please check the interactive “Rules of Origin Self Assessment tool (ROSA)” in My Trade Assistant to assess whether your product fulfils the rules of origin and find out how to prepare the correct documents.
General information about the rules of origin and the origin procedures can be found in this section.
Origin is the 'economic nationality' of traded goods. If you are new to the topic, you can find an introduction to the main concepts in the goods section.
Rules of origin
Where can I find the rules of origin?
The rules of origin are set out in Protocol 1 of EUSFTA.
Does my product originate in the EU or Singapore?
To qualify for the lower or zero preferential tariff under the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, your product must originate in the EU or Singapore. A product is considered originating in the EU or in Singapore, if it is
- wholly obtained in the EU or Singapore or
- manufactured in the EU or Singapore using non-originating materials and fulfils the product specific rules set out in Annex B to the protocol on rules of origin
See also Annex A Introductory notes to the list in Annex B for a description of how to read the rules. Furthermore, Annex B(a) Addendum to Annex B provides for alternative product specific rules for certain products originating in Singapore, limited by an annual quota.
The product also needs to fulfil all other applicable requirements specified in the Chapter (for example insufficient working or processing, the non-alteration rule). There are also some additional flexibilities to help you comply with product specific rules (for example tolerance and cumulation).
Examples of the main types of product specific rules in EU trade agreements
- the value-added rule – the value of all of the non-originating materials in a product cannot exceed a certain percentage of its ex-works price
- the change of tariff classification – the production process results in a change of tariff classification between the non-originating materials and the final product – for example production of paper (Harmonized System Chapter 48) from non-originating pulp (Harmonized System Chapter 47)
- specific operations – a specific production process is required, for example spinning of fibres into yarn – such rules are mostly used in the textiles clothing and chemical sectors
Tips to help you comply with the product specific rules
Additional flexibility is foreseen to help you comply with product-specific rules, such as tolerances or cumulation.
In the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the tolerance rule allows the producer to use non-originating materials that are normally prohibited by the product specific rule as long as their net weight or value does not exceed
- 10% of the weight of the product for agricultural and processed agricultural products falling within Chapters 2 and 4 to 24 of the Harmonised System, other than processed fishery products of Chapter 16
- 10% of the ex-works price of the product for industrial products other than textiles and clothing
Specific tolerances apply to textiles and clothing classified in Harmonized System Chapters 50 to 63, which are included in Note 6 and Note 7 of Annex A Introductory notes to the list in Annex B
This tolerance cannot be used to exceed any maximum-value threshold of non-originating materials listed in the product-specific rules.
The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement provides for three ways of cumulating origin. Please note however that currently only the first one applies (bilateral cumulation)
- bilateral cumulation – materials originating in Singapore can be counted as originating in the EU when used in the manufacture of a product in the EU (and vice versa)
- cumulation with an ASEAN country which has a preferential agreement with the EU, which allows materials originating in such countries to be counted as originating in Singapore or in the EU when used in the manufacturing of a product
Please note that the materials listed in Annex C to the Protocol on Rules of Origin are excluded from this cumulation. Currently this cumulation does not apply.
- cumulation with an ASEAN country which has no preferential agreement with the EU, which allows materials originating in such countries to be counted as originating in the EU or Singapore when used in manufacturing of the products listed in Annex D to the Protocol on Rules of Origin
Currently this cumulation does not apply.
The product also needs to fulfil all other applicable requirements specified in the Protocol on rules of origin, such as the non-alteration rule.
Transport through a third country: non-alteration rule
Originating products must be transported from the EU to Singapore (and vice-versa) without being further processed in a third country.
Some operations can be conducted in a third country if the products remain under customs supervision, such as
- adding or affixing marks, labels, seals or any documentation to ensure compliance with specific domestic requirements of the importing country
- preserving products in good conditions
- splitting of consignments
In case of doubt, the customs authorities may request the declarant to provide evidence of compliance. Evidence of compliance may be given by any means, including
- contractual transport documents such as bills of lading
- factual or concrete evidence based on marking or numbering of packages
- any evidence related to the goods themselves
Refunding of duties previously paid on non-originating materials used to produce a product that is exported under a preferential tariff is not allowed under this trade agreement.
Exporters and importers have to follow the origin procedures. The procedures are set out in Section B of the Protocol on Rules of Origin of the agreement. They clarify, for example, how:
- to declare the origin of a product
- to claim preferences
- the customs authorities can verify the origin of a product
How to claim a preferential tariff?
To benefit from a preferential tariff, importers must provide proof of origin.
Under this agreement, importers can claim for a preferential tariff based on an origin declaration provided by the exporter.
Self-declaration by the exporter
Exporters can self-declare that their product originates in the EU or Singapore by providing an origin declaration
- in the EU it can be made
- by an approved exporter
- by any exporter provided that the total value of the consignment does not exceed €6,000
- in Singapore it can be made by an exporter who
- is registered with the authorities of Singapore
- has received a Unique Entity Number
The customs authorities of the exporting country may authorise any exporter who exports products under the trade agreement to make out origin declarations for products regardless of their value. The exporter must provide sufficient guarantees to the customs authorities that the originating status of the products and the fulfilment of all the other requirements of the agreement (Protocol) can be verified. The customs authorities can withdraw the approved exporter status in the event of any abuse.
What should the origin declaration contain?
To make an origin declaration you should type, stamp or print the declaration on the invoice, the delivery note or another commercial document the following text:
“The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs or competent governmental authorisation No ...) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of ... preferential origin.”
The text of the origin declaration can be made in any of the official languages of the EU and can be found in Annex E of the Protocol on rules of origin.
You must sign your invoice declaration by hand. If you are an approved exporter, you are exempted from this requirement provided you give your customs authorities a written undertaking that you accept full responsibility for any declaration identifying you.
Submission and validity
An origin declaration may exceptionally be made after exportation (‘retrospective statement’) on condition that it is presented in the importing country no later than two years, in the case of the EU, and one year, in the case of Singapore, after the entry of the goods into the territory.
You should keep and be prepared to submit supporting documents proving that your product is originating (for example, supplier’s declarations) and fulfils other requirements of the Protocol on rules of origin if requested by customs authorities.
The origin declaration remains valid for 12 months from the date of issue by the exporter.
Verification of origin
The customs authorities may verify whether a product imported is indeed originating or fulfils other origin requirements. The EU-Singapore FTA is based on the following principles:
- the verification is requested by the authorities of the importing country and is carried out by the authorities of the exporting country
- verification is based on administrative cooperation between customs authorities of the importing and the exporting countries
- checks on the origin of the products are done by local customs. Visits of the importing Party to the exporter are not allowed
- the authorities of the exporting Party make the final determination of origin and inform the authorities of the importing Party of the results
Technical rules and requirements
The trade agreement puts in place more compatible technical requirements and testing for products and reduces technical barriers that could otherwise make it hard for you to sell your products in Singapore. For example
- Authorised Economic Operator
- rules regarding marking and labelling are simplified
- duplication of costly and time-consuming procedures for testing products are reduced – for instance, Singapore recognises current EU standards and testing on cars and car parts
- a system for certifying EU meat-producing establishments that want to export to Singapore is put in place
How will the trade agreement protect European standards, including food safety standards?
The trade agreement will in no way affect, amend, lower or eliminate EU standards in any area.
This means that Singaporean products and services can only be sold in the EU on the same conditions as EU products and services. They must satisfy all EU rules and regulations, such as
- technical rules and standards
- consumer safety requirements
- environmental requirements
- rules on animal and plant health and hygiene
- food safety regulations
Standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures are based on relevant international standards.
The agreement aims to avoid duplicative and burdensome conformity testing procedures for product safety and electromagnetic compatibility of
- electrical and electronic equipment
- electrical household appliances
- consumer electronics
Singapore accepts a supplier’s declaration of conformity for products deemed to be of low risk for consumer safety, health or the environment.
Motor Vehicles and Vehicle Parts
With the agreement, it is possible to sell new motor vehicles and car parts from the EU in Singapore without any additional testing or certification, provided they are certified in line with international standards accepted in the EU, notably United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) type approval regulations.
The EU and Singapore have also agreed to
- refrain from introducing new regulatory measures which differ from international standards
- allow the sale of products incorporating new technologies, unless such technologies are proven to create a significant risk to human health, safety or the environment
Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices
The EU and Singapore have agreed to
- use international standards, practices, and guidelines for pharmaceutical products and medical devices
- ensure listing, pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals are fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory
The EU will recognise Singapore’s standards of “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) in the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) as equivalent to its own, which will facilitate the exports of Singapore API into the EU.
Health and safety requirements – SPS
When it comes to food safety, animal and plant health, both the EU and Singapore have stringent laws and procedures in place. The agreement aims to facilitate exports of products of animal origin. For instance, the EU and Singapore have agreed to evaluate each others’ inspection and certification systems for meat producing establishments, rather than requiring each individual abattoir or food processing plant to be inspected by the other party before it can export.
Find the specific rules and requirements for your product in My Trade Assistant.
Technical Barriers to Trade
Although technical rules are important, they can at times act as a barrier to international trade and can thus be a considerable burden for you as an exporter.
- if you think you are facing a trade barrier that slows your business down or prevents you from exporting, you can tell us
- report what is stopping your exports to Singapore using the online form and the EU will analyse your situation and take appropriate action
Customs clearance documents and procedures
The agreement ensures more efficient customs procedures to facilitate trade and reduce costs for businesses.
It order to strengthen the supply chain security, it foresees that the EU and Singapore will enter into mutual recognition of trade partnership programmes such as the EU ‘Authorised Economic Operators’ programme.
The step-by-step guides describe the different types of documents you should prepare for customs clearance of your products.
Depending on your product, the customs authorities may require all or some of the elements below
- commercial invoice (find the specific requirements regarding its form and content in My Trade Assistant)
- packing list
- import licences for certain goods
- certificates showing your product complies with mandatory product regulations, such as health and safety requirements, labelling and packaging
- proof of origin - origin declaration
For more certainty, you may wish to apply for Binding Tariff Information and/or Binding Origin Information in advance.
For detailed information about the documents you need to present for customs clearance for your product, go to My Trade Assistant.
For a description of how to prove the origin of your products to claim a preferential tariff and of the rules relating to the verification of origin by customs authorities, please refer to the section on rules of origin above.
For information on customs procedure for import and export in general, visit the website of DG Taxation and Customs Union.
Intellectual property and Geographical Indications
The trade agreement also contains modern rules to protect and enforce intellectual property rights
Singapore has strengthened its existing Geographical Indications (GIs) regime by setting up a system to register GIs in Singapore for the protection of products that have special qualities or enjoy certain reputation or other characteristics due to their geographical origin. EU producers are able to apply to register their GIs in Singapore. Non-EU producers are also able to apply to register GIs in Singapore, where the products fall within the prescribed categories. 139 EU GIs for wines, spirits and certain agricultural products enjoy levels of protection equal to those in the EU. This enhanced protection will strengthen consumers’ recognition of authentic quality EU food products, wines and spirits in Singapore, such as
- Bordeaux wines
- Parma ham
- Bavarian beer
Under the agreement, Singapore committed to grant an extension of the duration of the patent protection to compensate for the reduction in the patent life resulting from the administrative marketing operational process.
Copyright and related rights
The trade agreement provides for 70 years of copyright protection. It provides for a single equitable remuneration for producers of sound recordings broadcasted or performed in public. This will be implemented no later than November 2021. The agreement will align Singapore’s copyright laws with countries’ that allow producers of sound recordings to collect broadcasting and public performance royalties.
EU and Singapore will protect well-known trademarks based on the Joint Recommendation of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
Protecting test data
The agreement also foresees that test data submitted to obtain an administrative marketing approval to place pharmaceutical and agrochemical products on the market will be protected for a period of 5 years that may be extended for an additional 5 years.
The trade agreement foresees that Singapore will increase the terms of protection for registered designs to 10 years.
The agreement includes detailed provisions on civil enforcement measures. With regard to border enforcement, right holders will be able to request that Singapore’s customs authorities seize counterfeit trademark goods and pirated copyright goods.
By November 2022, right holders will be able to request that Singapore’s customs authorities also seize counterfeit GI goods and pirated design goods when they are to be imported or exported.
Singapore and the EU have also committed to procedures that will allow authorities to suspend the release of counterfeit trademark goods, pirated copyright goods and counterfeit GI goods at their own initiative. With regard to counterfeit GI goods, Singapore will implement this commitment by November 2022.
The Southeast Asia IPR Helpdesk offers a Helpline service for direct support on intellectual property for SMEs.
The trade agreement covers a wide range of services and provides additional market access for services providers.
Concretely, EU and Singapore have agreed to reduce or remove certain restrictions on
- the number of services suppliers
- the value of services transactions or assets
- the number of services operations or quantity of services outputs
- the number of persons that may be employed
- the specific type of legal entity permitted
- foreign shareholding/equity limits
This applies to a wide range of sectors, including
- telecommunications services
- financial services
- computer and related services
- transport services
- environmental services
- certain business services (such as architectural and engineering services)
- postal services
EU and Singapore have also agreed to ensure that the same rules and regulations apply to domestic and foreign services providers in certain sectors to create predictability and a level playing field. This applies for example to
- postal services - ensure that dominant market players will not engage in anti-competitive practices
- telecommunication services - major suppliers, such as network owners, must provide other operators access to specific network elements, on an unbundled basis, on terms and conditions that are reasonable and transparent
- international maritime transport - define relevant commitments and ensure clarity on what exactly is committed
- computer services - capture all future computer services based on their functionalities
- domestic regulation - comprehensive provisions on licensing procedures and professional qualifications ensuring that when an investor applies for a licence for the provision of a service or non-service, they are treated fairly and are protected from arbitrary restrictions while their right to appeal is ensured
Services are the backbone of the economies of EU and Singapore. Singapore is a major hub in Southeast Asia for EU services providers and accounts for more than half of all trade In commercial services between the EU and ASEAN.
|Computer and related services||All related services in this field||All related services in this field|
|Research and Development||
|Postal services||All related services under this field||Basic and express letter services|
|Telecommunication services||Services consisting of the transmission and reception of signals by electromagnetic means, excluding broadcasting||
Services (excluding broadcasting), such as
|Tourism and travel related services||Travel agencies and tour operating services||
Maritime – services related to
Maritime – services related to
Road transport – supporting services like
Singapore and the EU recognise the importance of free flow of information, and have agreed not to impose custom duties on electronic transmissions.
Both sides also agree that
- e-commerce should not impair intellectual property rights
- the development of e-commerce must be compatible with international standards of data protection
Singapore and the EU are members of the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).
Even before the trade agreement, they already had open and modern systems of public procurement and applied high standards of transparency and procedural fairness to their public tendering, and in many cases, EU firms were already able to compete for public contracts in Singapore above a certain value threshold.
However, the trade agreement offers even more opportunities for EU firms to compete for public procurement contracts in Singapore.
- agreed to additional disciplines on tendering
- agreed to lower value thresholds for open tendering procedures for bodies such as the Public Utilities Board and the Energy Market Authority
- expanded the types of public service contracts covered by commitments on transparency and non-discrimination - this is important because access to information is one of the biggest obstacles EU smaller companies encounter in accessing overseas markets
The EU has
- added to the list of entities open for bids for public contracts additional central-level government ministries, agencies and other bodies – compared to those included in its WTO Government Procurement Agreement list – as well as entities active in certain utility sectors
- included more types of public services contracts covered by open tendering compared to what it has agreed in the WTO, such as
- railway services
- computer services
- telecommunications services
- landscape architectural services
Trade and Sustainable Development
The trade agreement sets out binding commitments to ensure that domestic levels of environmental and labour protection are consistent with core international standards and agreements.
It prohibits “race-to-the-bottom” practices where labour and environmental laws are lowered to attract trade or investment, while recognising the EU’s and Singapore’s rights to establish their own levels of environmental and labour protection.
The trade agreement aims to enhance the contribution of trade and investment to sustainable development, including
- corporate social responsibility
- eco-labelling initiatives
- fair and ethical trade
- conserving and sustainably managing natural resources, including through sustainable forest management and conservation and management of fish stocks
The FTA includes commitments to implement International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that the parties have ratified but also commitments to take necessary steps to ratify ILO conventions on fundamental rights to which they are not yet a signatory such as
- the Ministerial Declaration of the UN Economic and Social Council on Generating Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All of 2006
- the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
- the fundamental ILO conventions
Environment and Climate Change
The agreement includes commitments by the EU and Singapore on the effective implementation of multilateral environmental agreements to which the EU and/or Singapore are parties respectively such as
- the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
- the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
- the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Specific provisions on climate change further underline the EU’s and Singapore’s efforts to tackle climate change.
The FTA also foresees cooperation between the parties including on eco-labelling and green public procurement, the removal of obstacles to trade for climate-friendly goods and services such as sustainable renewable energy goods; the progressive reduction of subsidies for fossils fuels and the promotion of Corporate social responsibility practices.
The The EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) will enter into force after ratification by all EU Member States according to their own national procedures.
Once in force, it will further improve the investment climate and offer more certainty to investors.
The agreement will ensure that European and Singaporean investors are treated equally and fairly and are not subject to any discriminatory treatment, such as
- forced expropriations or expropriation without proper compensation
- revocation of business licences
- abuses by the host state, such as lack of due process or not being able to make international transfers of capital
The investment protection agreement will offer investors the option of a modern and reformed investment dispute resolution mechanism – the Investment Court System.
The cornerstones of the new Investment Court System are
- a permanent investment Tribunal of First Instance
- an Appellate Tribunal for appeals
The system will be based on principles of transparency of proceedings and provisions against abuse of the system. For example, the investment protection agreement contains rules to prevent fraudulent or manipulative claims such as the re-structuring of a business for the purpose of submitting a claim.
The Investment Court system will ensure that the investment protection agreement is interpreted in a legally correct and predictable manner.
Useful links and contacts
|Ministry of Trade and Industry||
100 High Street, #09-01, The Treasury, Singapore 179434
Tel: +65 6225 9911
|Enterprise Singapore (ESG)||
230 Victoria Street, Level 10 Bugis Junction Office Tower, Singapore 188024
Tel: +65 6898 1800
|ESG’s Frankfurt Office||
Singapore Centre, Bleichstr. 45, 60313 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Tel: +49 699207350
|ESG’s London Office||
Singapore Centre, First Floor, Southwest House, 11a Regent Street, London SW1Y 4LR, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 2074842730
|European Union Delegation to Singapore||
250 North Bridge Road, #38-03 Raffles City Tower, Singapore 179101
Tel: +65 6336 7919
You can find more information on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement on DG Trade’s website. For an overview, you can also consult the factsheets.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) also provides detailed information on EU-Singapore relations.