UpdateEU free trade talks with Singapore start 8-12 March; Vietnam next

03 March 2010 09:58  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds details on future launch of free trade talks between EU and Vietnam)

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Singapore and the European Union (EU) will start their first round of negotiations to forge a free trade pact this month, the city-state’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the European Commission announced on Wednesday in a joint statement.

The discussions would take place on 8-12 March in Singapore, the statement said.

"The proposed free-trade agreement will strengthen economic ties between Singapore and the EU, provide new opportunities for traders and consumers alike, and contribute to generating growth in our economies," said EU Trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.

"For Europe, it will also mark an important stepping stone in the EU's engagement with the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region," De Gucht added.

Singapore and the EU have also agreed to continue working closely with the World Trade Organisation towards concluding the stalled Doha negotiations on global trade, it said.

The EU is the city-state’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade exceeding €55bn ($75bn), the statement said.

Free trade discussions could also start soon between the EU and another ASEAN member - Vietnam, where De Gucht led an EC delegation on Tuesday.

“EU and Vietnamese officials will now work together to agree [on] the way forward towards the formal start of negotiations as well as an agreed framework for the talks to reach an FTA (Free Trade Agreement),” the EC delegation to Vietnam said in a statement.

No timeline was given for discussions.

Vietnam is the EU’s fifth largest trading partner within ASEAN, with bilateral trade amounting to almost €12bn, the statement said.

EC had been given the green light by the 27 members of the EU to pursue negotiations with individual ASEAN countries in December 2009.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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