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Friends of Singapore Group in the European Parliament launched by foreign minister Balakrishnan and delegation led by Sorin Moisa MEP

Date

05 Apr 2016

Sections

Global Europe
Trade & Society

Members of the European Parliament from the Friends of Singapore Group (FoS), chaired by Sorin Moisă MEP (S&D, RO), visited Singapore between 30 March and 1 April. The highlight of the visit was the formal launch of the Group in a ceremony at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign  Affairs  officiated  by  the  Singapore  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs,  H.E.  Dr.  Vivian Balakrishnan.

The E.P. Delegation was formed, in addition to MEP Moisa, by Antonio Lopez -Istúriz White (EPP,  ES),  Emma  McClarkin  (UK,  ECR  trade  coordinator),  Inmaculada  Rodriguez -Pinero Fernandez (S&D, ES) and Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT). The Friends of Singapore Group includes 22 MEPs from the main political families in Europe and 12 EU Member States.

The launch event was also attended by fifteen Members of Parliament from the Singapore Europe Regional Parliamentary Group, the EU Ambassador to Singapore H .E. Michael Pulch, Ambassadors from EU Member States and senior officials from Singapore. In his address, Minister Balakrishnan  offered  Singapore's  condolences  and  support  over  the  terrorist attacks  in  Brussels, emphasised  how  'longstanding,  multifaceted  and  healthy'  are Singapore’s  connections  with  Europe,  and  asked  for  further  strengthening  our  already powerful  trade  and  economic  relationship.  In  his  address,  MEP  Moisa  also  stressed  the strong  European  imprint  in  the  'Singapore  story',  one  of  truly  amazing  transformation, commended Singapore for its capacity to constantly innovate and reinvent itself, stressed its vital importance for Europe in Southeast Asia, and offered the support of the FoS Group for the speedy ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

The E.P. delegation  also  had  bilateral  meetings  with  Dr  Vivian  Balakrishnan,  Minister  for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lim Hng Kiang,  Minister for Trade and Industry, and Mr Charles Chong Deputy  Speaker  of  Parliament.  They  also  participated  in  a  working  lunch  offered  by  Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  and  Ministry  of  Transport.  The  MEPs  also  met  with  the  EU  business  community active in Singapore, participated in a roundtable discussion with civil society organised by the  Institute  of  Policy  Studies,  and  in  a  debate  with  relevant  think  tanks  on  trade  and economic  developments  in  South-East  Asia  hosted  by  EU  Ambassador  Dr.  Michael Pulch. The MEPs were invited to attend a 'Meet the  People' session with MP Ms Foo Mee Har in order  to  experience  the  manner  in  which  Singaporean  MPs  keep  in  touch  with  their constituents.  

Common  threads  of  all  discussions  were  to  reaffirm  the  excellent  relations  between  the European Union and Singapore,  and stock-taking of political and economic developments in the EU, Singapore, as well as in each respective region. Special emphasis was given to the best  ways  and  means  to  promote  the  expeditious  ratification  of  the  EU -Singapore  Free Trade  Agreement  (EUSFTA).  MEP  Moisa,  who  is  also  a  member  of  the  EP's  International Trade  Committee,  reflected  on  how  we  can  achieve  this  while  remaining  mindful  of  the interests  and  expectations  of  both  of  our  societies  and  democratic  institutions.  The discussions  benefited  fully  from  the  diversity  of  political  and  policy  expertise  of  all  FoS members present.

The  FoS  delegation  expressed  their  wish  to  help  strengthen  the  political,  economic  and people-to-people  ties  between  Singapore  and  the  EU.  There  is  a  strong  belief  within  the delegation  that  there  is  potential  for  even  more  growth,  and  that  the  EU -Singapore  Free Trade Agreement needs to be ratified as quickly as possible.

 

Background on EU-Singapore trade relations

Singapore  is  the  fourth  largest  economy  within  ASEAN  (Association  of  Southeast  Asian Nations),  but  is  by  far  the  EU's  largest  trade  and  investment  partner  in  Southeast  Asia, accounting for a third of total EU-ASEAN trade in goods and services and for two thirds of the  EU  investment  stock  in  ASEAN.  Over 11.000 EU   companies have set up their regional headquarters in Singapore.

Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Singapore was over €48.6 bn in 2015, with an over €10 billion surplus for the EU. Singapore is a service-oriented economy: value added of the services sector is 75% GDP.  Bilateral trade in services between the EU and Singapore amounted to over €36 bn in 2014, representing over a half of the EU's trade in services with ASEAN.

In  terms  of  investment  flows, in  2014  the  EU was  the  largest  contributor  of  Foreign  Direct Investment  (FDI)  into  Singapore,  accounting  for  €103  billion and  over a  fourth of  the  total stock of FDI in Singapore. At the same time, Singapore is the third large st Asian investor in the EU, with roughly €43.8 billion in FDI stock.

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