- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

SINGAPORE, March 7 (UPI) — The European Union's ambassador to Singapore has ruled out an early start to talks on a free trade agreement between the two governments.

EU Ambassador Vassilis Bontosoglou, who arrived recently, said the EU did not want to push forward with bilateral trade talks until the new World Trade Organization's Doha round is concluded.

At a news conference Bontosoglou said: "The priority is the WTO and for those negotiations to be concluded within the agreed timeframe. We cannot be in a position where we divert resources and start discussing bilateral agreements."

Bontosoglou also said the EU would want local European businessmen in Singapore to present a case for such deal.

However, he also stressed there was a lot of grounds for cooperation between Singapore and the European Commission.

Singapore has previously indicated it would like to start bilateral trade talks with the EU soon, having just concluded negotiations for a free trade agreement with the United States.




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