Trade

Singapore prepared to strike UK trade deal

The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, said his country was ready to strike a trade deal with the U.K., which would come into effect at the end of any Brexit transition period.

“We can do what the trade people call in the jargon a short-form agreement, which is basically to continue to do with Britain what we have agreed to do with the EU as if you [U.K.] were still inside it,” he told BBC Radio 4s Today Program on Friday.

Lee is attending the Asia-Europe summit in Brussels today to sign a new Singapore-EU trade deal, which will then need to be ratified by EU countries.

He said that agreeing the terms of the EU trade deal with the U.K. was something Singapore was prepared to do. “We hope we will be able to continue arrangements with Britain, whether or not it is inside the EU…, and then we have time to work some better long-term arrangements over time.”

Lee said he had discussed such an arrangement with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, adding it would apply straight away, once the transition period ended.

“We are happy to buy your cheese,” he said.

Asked about his thoughts generally on Brexit, Lee said: “From an economic point of view, its hard to make the argument that youll be in a superior position outside the EU than in, but I fully understand you have other considerations which may outweigh the economic one.”

Lee also downplayed some Brexiteers view of a low-tax, low-regulation, post-Brexit “Global Britain,” saying: “I dont know that its possible to model Britain on the same basis as Singapore.”

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