Overlapping Negotiations, Conflicting Interests? EU-Singapore Negotiations
23 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 2020
In 2013, the European Union (EU) concluded its first comprehensive trade agreement with a Southeast Asian partner. The EU-Singapore agreement (EUSFTA) was meant as a blueprint for further negotiations in the region and indeed it was paralleled by trade talks between the EU and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Given the significant challenges and roadblocks the EU faced in concluding both inter-regional and bilateral trade deals in Asia prior to the EUSFTA, the conclusion of this agreement can be understood as a significant success. However, this success has come at the cost of a shift in EU external relations away from the promotion of its own foundation norms of human rights, rule of law and democracy. This shift has had a deleterious effect on the EU’s legitimacy, founded on upholding these norms, both internally and in the Asian region. As a blueprint agreement, the EUSFTA can be analyzed to understand how this shift in the EU’s external relations will shape the EU’s wider trade policy in East Asia as well as the future of EU-Asia trade relations. This working paper will explore these negotiations and argue that the EU unbundled trade policy from its rights-based foreign policy in the EUSFTA. We argue that this creates significant opportunity for Singapore and other Asian states, but also presents a critical risk to the EU’s foundation norms, which were compromised in the EU’s negotiation of the EUSFTA.
Keywords: European Union, human rights, Singapore, trade agreement, values.
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