EU-Singapore trade deal takes force

Brussels- The European Union's first trade deal with a South-east Asian country, Singapore, comes into effect on Thursday, set to eliminate almost all tariffs between the trading partners in the next five years.

The EU and Singapore traded goods and services worth more than 100 billion euros (111 billion dollars) in 2017, according to the EU. The city-state is the bloc's 14th-largest trading partner in goods.

"The agreement will benefit workers, farmers and companies of all sizes, both here and in Singapore," EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said earlier in November.

Human and Labour rights

The deal, inked in October 2018, "also includes strong clauses protecting human and labour rights and the environment," she added.

It is coupled with another agreement promoting bilateral investment, which is to enter into force once it is ratified by EU member states.

The EU economy, which relies heavily on trade, is feeling the strain of international trade conflict.

The EU-Singapore agreement, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker "crowns the efforts of this commission to build a network of partners committed to open, fair and rules-based trade."

Germany's foreign trade balance - the difference between exports and imports - amounted to 232 billion euros in 2018. This is how much German companies exported more than they imported last year.