Chapter 6: The European Union’s Free Trade Agreement with Singapore – One Step Forward, 28 Steps Back?

in International Investment Treaties and Arbitration Across Asia
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This chapter focuses on how the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (eusfta) illustrates the evolution of Singapore’s treaty practice. Singapore has abandoned the ‘old’, and has joined the bandwagon of next-generation ftas; yet, shrewdly, it is not fully convinced about the ‘new’ either. Singapore’s caution appears to be motivated by a pragmatic desire to avoid the pitfalls that these provisions could bring with them, as investor-State arbitration (isa) jurisprudence demonstrates, and to study the implications of a recent decision by the eu’s highest court regarding the fta which has delayed the agreement’s implementation. Indeed, Opinion 2/15 shows that while Singapore may have largely entertained isa as it stands, eu States are wary of the isa regime removing disputes from the jurisdiction of national courts. This chapter attempts to unpack the significance of the opinion, and concludes, inter alia, that the court’s findings on shared competence regarding dispute settlement may constitute a call for Europe and the world to consider dispute settlement modalities beyond investment arbitration.

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