And if the UK opens negotiations for a free trade agreement with Singapore, it will likely have two main objectives in mind. First, the UK is bound to strike a deal as good as the Singapore deal with the EU, as this would leave UK traders and investors with the short end of the stock compared to their EU counterparts. The good news is that if the UK decides to start its own FTA negotiations with Singapore, these are likely to be concluded in a relatively short period of time, thanks to the city-state`s experience in bilateral FTA negotiations and also because of its minimal agricultural sector. Analysts believe the EU has reason to insist on free trade agreements because they have proven effective in boosting trade, as shown by the European trade agreement with South Korea. According to the European Commission, EU exports to South Korea have increased by 55% in the five years since the entry into force of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement in 2011. While the transit process through the parliaments of EU member states could take at least four or five years, most of a free trade agreement – almost 95% out of one – could still be ratified without investment protection as soon as the Court of Justice of the EU issues its decision, expected before the end of this year. Most analysts expect the free trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam to enter into force next year, which will lead to increased trade flows with these two countries. Since Singapore`s trade dynamics with the EU are very different from those of other ASEAN countries, it is difficult to compare it with the EU`s bilateral free trade agreements with other ASEAN members. Together with Singapore`s trade agreement with the UNITED States, signed in 2003, the free trade agreement between Singapore and the EU could serve as a model for similar trade agreements in the region, as well as for the UNITED Kingdom, if it wants to conclude its own free trade agreements after Brexit.

As the third largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China, the ASEAN bloc is an important market for the EU. And the EU is ASEAN`s second-largest trading partner and accounts for about 13% of ASEAN`s total trade. EU Member States, as a group, are by far the largest investors in ASEAN countries and account for almost a third of total foreign direct investment in the region – EU companies invested an average of €19 billion ($21 billion) per year between 2012 and 2014. Brexit will destabilize two dimensions of this equation. First, it will have an impact on how the EU negotiates its bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) – many of which are still ongoing – with ASEAN member states. Second, it will look at how the UK, which will be outside the EU`s free trade agreements after Brexit, will be forced to seek its own free trade agreements with ASEAN member countries, although no formal negotiations can begin until it officially leaves the EU. . . .