The UK has on Thursday and Friday concluded Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Vietnam, the department of trade and investment said in a statement on Friday.
“As the UK’s largest trading partner in South-East Asia, the Singapore continuity agreement will provide a gateway to Asia for UK businesses and lock in the benefits of our existing trading relationship, worth £17.6 billion last year,” the statement said.
“It is the latest step in the UK’s strategy to create a network of trade agreements with dynamic economies far beyond Europe, making the UK a hub for services and digital trade. The UK is already one of the world’s biggest exporters of services, with remotely delivered services exports worth £207 billion in 2019,” according to the statement.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Singaporean counterpart, Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, also announced their intention to launch negotiations for a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). This would be the first DEA that Singapore has struck with a European country.
The deal also secures benefits for UK fintech firms in Singapore – Singapore has agreed to start a review in 2021 to consider an increase in the limits imposed on e-wallet payments, which affect UK firms operating in Singapore, as well as to discuss opportunities for UK firms to apply to become Digital Wholesale Banks in Singapore. This is in addition to additional customer services points permitted for UK retail banks already operating in Singapore, as part of this agreement, the statement continued.
On Friday, a separate trade agreement is being concluded with Vietnam, which will also maintain an important trading relationship that has tripled between 2010 and 2019 in nominal terms to £5.7 billion. Ninety-nine per cent of tariffs will be eliminated after seven years, including on machinery and pharmaceutical products, our top exports to Vietnam.
International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss commented: “Both these agreements are vital for the UK’s future as an independent trading nation. Not only do they lock in billions of pounds worth of trade, they also pave the way for new digital partnerships and joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This will play to the UK’s strengths, as we become a hub for tech and digital trade with influence far beyond our shores, defining our role in the world for decades to come. ”