But despite countries` interest in free trade deals with a UK after Brexit, analysts still warn against putting the cart in front of the horse. In order for London to formally enter into such negotiations, it must officially leave the EU. And even if it wants to start informal discussions, there are doubts about Britain`s ability to have the right manpower for its experienced trade negotiators. In addition, Singapore`s telecommunications sector has a number of restrictions, including foreign capital caps and licensing restrictions. As far as transport is concerned, Singapore offered the EU satisfactory concessions for freight and passengers, but it did not offer much for air transport. Then there is the area of legal services, where the city-state is relatively protectionist, with most European law firms having difficulty meeting the requirements of foreign lawyers. However, Singapore has offered the EU concessions that are consistent with what the United States has obtained. So far, Australia, which is not a member of ASEAN, has been the most aggressive with the formal creation of the Australia-Uk Trade Working Group, which is tasked with finding a future free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit. Within ASEAN, Singapore is expected to be at the top of the UK`s priority list for a trade deal, due to its strong trade relations with the UK, as is ASEAN`s most populous nation, Indonesia.
The European Commission reports annually on the implementation of its main trade agreements in the previous calendar year. The EU has trade agreements with these countries/regions, but both sides are now negotiating an update. In the insurance sector, for example, Singapore`s accreditation requirements restrict access to foreign capital. Similar restrictions also apply to the banking sector, although the free trade agreement with the EU indicates that EU companies are finally being offered a level playing field for offshore and wholesale banks that were part of Singapore`s trade agreement with the US. Analysts believe that the EU has reason to insist that free trade agreements be concluded because they have proven effective in promoting trade, as shown by the trade agreement between Europe and South Korea. According to figures published by the European Commission, EU exports to South Korea have increased by 55% in the five years since the EU-South Korea free trade agreement came into force in 2011. Brexit will destabilize two dimensions of this equation. First, it will have an impact on the way the EU negotiates its bilateral free trade agreements with ASEAN Member States, many of which are still ongoing. Secondly, 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 countries, although no formal negotiations can be initiated until it officially leaves the EU. Since Singapore`s trade dynamics with the EU are different from those of other ASEAN countries, it is difficult to compare it with the EU`s bilateral free trade agreements with other ASEAN countries. Nevertheless, the Singapore-EU free trade agreement, with the Singapore trade agreement with the US, signed in 2003, could serve as a model for similar trade agreements in the region, as well as for the UK, if it wants its own free trade agreements after Brexit.
Leading business experts such as Julien Chaisse, a professor of commercial law at the University of China in Hong Kong, say that critical issues include those that regulate non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and geographic indication protection (GI), which guarantees the authenticity of products that bear the name of a certain geographical origin and which, because of these origins, possess qualities or reputation. Despite fears that Brexit will wipe out EU free trade agreements with ASEAN members, referendum