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Daily Tax Quote

ECJ Singapore FTA Ruling To Boost UK Brexit Position

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels Thursday, May 18, 2017

In a ruling expected to boost the UK's position in Brexit talks, the European Court of Justice has set out the extent to which member states must be involved in approving the free trade agreement with Singapore.

The Court said the provisions of the agreement relating to non-direct foreign investment and those relating to dispute settlement between investors and states do not fall within the exclusive competence of the EU, so that the agreement cannot, as it stands, be concluded without the participation of the member states.

The ruling means that a narrow free trade agreement between the EU and the UK could be approved exclusively by the EU, providing it does not include such provisions. This would prevent individual member states from vetoing the deal, with tensions ongoing between the UK and Spain concerning Gibraltar's autonomy.

On September 20, 2013, the EU and Singapore initialed the text of a free trade agreement. The agreement is one of the first "new generation" bilateral free trade agreements – a trade agreement which contains, in addition to the classical provisions on the reduction of customs duties and of non-tariff barriers in the field of trade in goods and services, provisions on various matters related to trade, such as intellectual property protection, investment, public procurement, competition, and sustainable development.

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