The free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Singapore has been concluded and will come into force on November 21st 2019, the Council of the European Union has confirmed.
Signed by both parties in October and approved by the European Parliament in February, a decision by the council was the final hurdle the EU-Singapore free trade agreement (EUSFTA) needed to clear before it could come into effect.
This has now been achieved, with the council announcing its decision at a gala dinner attended by representatives of member nations last week.
Singapore and the EU will now "proceed to complete their respective remaining administrative processes" ahead of the enforcement date, a press release from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the European Commission said.
As part of the deal, customs duties on both sides will be slashed. Singapore is to remove all remaining tariffs on certain EU products and keep the current duty-free access for all other EU products unchanged, while the EU will remove 84 per cent of its tariffs immediately and the rest over the coming years.
Technical and non-tariff barriers to trade will also be removed in industries including electronics, pharmaceuticals and motor vehicle parts.
Further benefits of the FTA will include enhanced customs cooperation, recognition of rules of origin and the fact that materials sourced from other ASEAN member nations can now be classed as originating from Singapore and therefore qualify for tariff concessions.
Both sides have said the FTA marks a watershed moment, it being the first such deal between the EU and an ASEAN member state.
Negotiations for the EUSFTA began back in 2009 and were originally concluded in 2014, but ratification was delayed over whether the EU had the exclusive competence to sign and conclude the trade deal.
President of the European Council Ville Skinnari said: "The importance of this agreement for European businesses cannot be overestimated. It has the potential to create a thriving business environment for big and small players and strengthen even more our relations with our largest partner in south-east Asia."