Remarks by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Joint Press Conference with Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister Of The Republic Of Armenia, and Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman Of The Eurasian Economic Commission, held in Yerevan, Armenia, on 1 October 2019.
Singapore enjoys good relations with the EAEU and its member states. These relationships are founded on mutual respect, a desire for win-win cooperation, and a belief that we are collectively better off when we engage with one another.
Today, we signed the Framework and non-Services and Investment (S&I) Agreements of the Eurasian Economic Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. This is a significant milestone in our relationship.
I would like to congratulate and thank our negotiators for working hard to bring us across the finish line. They have concluded the negotiations in just two years and this reflects the strong support by all EAEU members for this agreement.
The FTA will deepen our ties and catalyse greater trade and investment flows. Trade between EAEU and Singapore is currently US$6.5 billion – not insignificant, but still quite modest.
When the FTA comes into force, our companies can enjoy lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers. These are tangible benefits that can immediately and meaningfully boost our trade.
In the longer term, regulatory cooperation, enhanced business linkages and greater familiarity with each other will allow our companies to operate across our regions with more ease and efficiency.
More broadly, this FTA is significant because it shows our resolve to resist the tide of protectionism. I just attended the UN General Assembly in New York, where many leaders, particularly of small states, expressed concern at the instinct to turn inwards, harden borders and hinder the free flow of trade and commerce.
I am glad that in the members of the EAEU, Singapore has also found like-minded partners committed to multilateralism and free trade. We are convinced that this free trade will foster competition and innovation, allow our businesses access to new technologies and global networks, increase our productivity and grow our economies.
I hope that this FTA between the EAEU and Singapore will lead to a broader trade agreement between the EAEU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. We have 800 million people between us, so it would be a substantial FTA. Such an FTA will help us unlock many more opportunities and realise our full potential.
Immediately after this, Armenia and Singapore will sign the bilateral Services & Investment Agreement. It is the first of five bilateral agreements to be concluded, and will complement the Framework and non-S&I agreements that we signed earlier.
I deeply appreciate Armenia’s forward-looking and constructive approach to the negotiations, and Prime Minister Pashinyan’s personal leadership.
We had discussed this in July, when the Prime Minister visited Singapore. We agreed to guide our officials to accelerate negotiations, and here we are today.
I therefore look forward to concluding the remaining S&I agreements with other EAEU members expeditiously.
Thank you very much.
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