BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has approved a free trade deal with Singapore that the European Union hopes to use as a blueprint for further deals in southeast Asia.
The legislature approved the deal in several votes with a large majority and it will become operational after the member states give their final approval.
Under the deal, both sides will gradually eliminate tariffs on goods and services over the next five years. It will also offer new opportunities for businesses on both sides to expand in each other's regions and will allow EU firms to compete for public procurement contracts in Singapore.
The EU and Singapore trade about 50 billion euros ($56 billion) in goods and 40 billion euros in services a year.