19 October 2018

HSBC Singapore supportive of EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

**Singapore’s electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food sectors to benefit.
**Enhances the Republic’s position as a springboard to ASEAN.
**Places ESG standards front and centre for future trade and investment activity.

HSBC Singapore welcomes the signing of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA); a significant moment for the two dynamic economies and for ASEAN.

Through eliminating virtually all tariffs and lowering non-tariff barriers, the agreement enables businesses to unlock new opportunities to further sell their goods and services. Furthermore, as the first of its kind signed between the EU and an ASEAN nation1 , the agreement sets a precedent to extend open, fair and rules-based trade policies across the two economic regions.

Pact to create opportunities amongst Singapore corporates

Tariffs on qualifying Singapore goods exports into the EU will be steadily abolished over the course of five years, with electronics, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and processed food products (among the main beneficiaries) becoming more competitive in the EU as a result.2 These industries collectively make up around 10% of Singapore GDP.3

Non-tariff barriers will also be addressed to remove burdensome administrative and double-testing procedures. For example, ensuring there are common safety and quality standards across certain sectors which will, therefore, remove the need for testing at both sides of the trade corridor4. This will benefit key sectors including electronics, motor vehicle and vehicle parts, pharmaceutical and medical devices.5

The EUSFTA’s services chapter also provides for transparency and non-discrimination in licensing and qualification procedures as well as for the future mutual recognition of professional qualifications. This will enable the smoother flow of professionals between each market.

Alan Turner, Managing Director and Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Singapore, said: “The signing of the EUSFTA is a panacea for the Singapore and European economic corridor. Its impact goes to the heart of sectors and issues that matter for Singapore including electronics, pharmaceuticals, and chemical manufacturing. While signing the trade agreement is an incredible first step and milestone, the key now is to convert trade policy into pragmatic commercial activity for Singapore corporates.”

Economic analysis prepared by the European Parliament finds that the trade pact could provide the following benefits: 6

  • European exports to Singapore to grow 3.6% over a 10-year period (approximately €550m).
  • Singapore exports to the EU to grow 10.4% over a 10-year period (by approximately €3.5bn).

EUSFTA positions Singapore as a springboard to ASEAN supply chains

The EUSFTA will allow for some manufactured goods to have ASEAN cumulation. This means that inputs sourced by Singapore businesses from other ASEAN member states will be considered as domestic content for the determination of the origin of the final product made in Singapore.7 In other words, certain inputs will come under Singapore’s zero tariff regime with Europe.

Ajay Sharma, APAC Regional Head of Global Trade Receivables Finance, HSBC, commented on the wider opportunity for ASEAN: “A high proportion of Singapore products have parts produced in other ASEAN countries. With the rule of ‘ASEAN cumulation’, more Singapore exports produced along intra-ASEAN value chains can benefit under the EUSFTA. This will have a significant impact for Singapore and for the ASEAN region - in areas like electronics and pharmaceuticals.”

ASEAN as an aggregate is the largest exporter to Singapore, with Singapore importing US$71.06bn of goods from ASEAN in 2017.8

Electronics is one of ASEAN’s most important sectors directly employing more than 2.5 million workers.9 According to the ASEAN Secretariat, the bulk of the world’s consumer electronics comes from the ASEAN region including 80% of the world’s hard drives which are produced in ASEAN countries. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia account for over 90% of ASEAN industry exports.10

EUSFTA’s ESG focused-agenda – a warning signal for ASEAN corporates

The EUSFTA will be driving green activity within the corridor by removing trade and investment obstacles in green technology and removing duties on many environmental goods.

This is important in ensuring Singapore and ASEAN businesses progress further along the green agenda.

According to a HSBC commissioned report released earlier this year, 24% of Asian respondents have an ESG strategy compared to 48% of corporates globally and 87% of European and UK companies.11

Commenting on the need for ASEAN businesses to address ESG standards in light of the EUSFTA, Mr. Sharma said: “Europe is clearly leading the way in ESG adoption, and the bloc’s willingness to ensure its trading partners raise their own ESG standards is evident in the policies contained in the EUSFTA. This has a wider consequence for ASEAN. Large European corporations will want to see a similar shift in their suppliers ESG stance. With ASEAN increasingly becoming the supply chain ‘factory’ for several European countries, suppliers of European clients will be expected to transform, or risk being left behind when further FTAs come into force.”

banking; insurance; forfaiting and trustee services; securities and capital markets services. One of the earliest banks to establish in Singapore, HSBC today is a prominent player in Singapore's financial services sector serving the banking needs of multi-national corporations, home-grown businesses, private banking clients, institutional and retail customers. In May 2016, HSBC locally incorporated its retail banking and wealth management business in Singapore and established, HSBC Bank (Singapore) Limited. Till this day, HSBC's flagship office remains at the original Collyer Quay site where its first branch was set up. HSBC Singapore has a retail network of 11 branches (of which 9 are dedicated HSBC Premier Centre) and many locations across the island providing self-service terminals.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited is the founding member of the HSBC Group, which serves our customers through four global businesses: Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Global Private Banking. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 3,800 offices in 66 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa.


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