London and Singapore signed a free trade agreement on Thursday as hopes for a compromise with the European Union on Brexit wane.
The document was signed in Singapore by the trade ministers of the two countries, noted an AFP reporter, and will cover a trade of $ 22 billion per year.
This agreement with the city-state, an important financial and commercial platform, should provide the UK with significant support in Asia as the country negotiates its exit from the European Union.
London signed its first major post-Brexit bilateral trade deal with Japan in October. But this agreement is the first with an ASEAN member country, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has 10 members and some 650 million inhabitants.
Trade Minister Liz Truss praised Singapore’s leadership in favor of free trade after signing the deal with the former British colony that cultivates close ties with London.
“Now that the UK has become a commercially independent nation again, we can join this campaign.” for free trade, he said.
“Singapore is the UK’s main trading partner and investor in Asean, while the UK is the main destination for Singaporean investments in Europe.”, he stressed.
This agreement “Provides UK companies with a platform to access opportunities in the region through Singapore”observed Singapore’s Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing.
For London, it is also a step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement, of which Singapore is one of eleven members.
This association, the CPTPP, is the new version of the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Pact (TPP) that was abandoned by Donald Trump.
The free trade agreement signed on Thursday between the United Kingdom and Singapore was inspired by an existing agreement between the European Union and Singapore.
It provides for the elimination of tariffs, opens reciprocal access to services markets and reduces non-tariff barriers to electronic products, vehicles and spare parts, pharmaceutical products and medical devices, as well as to the production of renewable energy.
Customs duties are expected to be removed in 2024, on the same date as for the agreement between the EU and Singapore.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have given each other until Sunday to make a decision on the stalled Brexit negotiations.
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