Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach agus le baill an choiste atá sa seomra coiste agus ar líne freisin. I have the pleasure to introduce this motion, which has been referred by the Dáil to this committee, on the approval of the EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Deepening our engagement and our presence in the Asia Pacific region is a key strategic goal for the Government. Our dedicated Asia Pacific strategy to 2025 sets the framework for growing our economic and people-to-people relationships in the region. Agreements between the EU and Asian partners, such as this partnership and co-operation agreement with Singapore, are an important part of that ambition.
Recognising the increasing political and economic importance of south-east Asia, Ireland has opened three new embassies in the region in recent years in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. In this broader context, Singapore is an influential voice within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, region and an important partner to Ireland and the EU. Like Ireland, Singapore is a small and exceptionally open economy, which relies on the rules-based global trading system. It has successfully positioned itself as the gateway to south-east Asia and as an attractive location for foreign direct investment in the region. It is an important base for Irish companies and our State agencies operating in this dynamic and opportunity-filled region.
The EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is an important framework agreement to further strengthen co-operation and dialogue across a broad range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues. This includes many priorities for Ireland in the region, such as health, climate change, energy, education, science and technology and transport. The EU has also has recently upgraded its relationship with the ASEAN region to a strategic partnership. In economic terms, Singapore is a major centre for finance in the region and is also a major trading partner and priority market for Ireland and Irish businesses in the Asia Pacific region. Trade in goods and services with Ireland in the region in 2019 was more than €10 billion.
Despite disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, trade in goods between Ireland and Singapore rose by a quarter during 2020, highlighting the benefits of the existing free trade agreement, which creates jobs here. The partnership and co-operation agreement before the committee will facilitate further opportunities for Irish companies in areas such as energy, aviation and education. In Singapore, our embassy and officials operate alongside Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and IDA Ireland. With this strong team Ireland presence, I am optimistic we will see continued growth in our relationship in the coming period. Freagróidh mé aon cheisteanna atá ag na baill.