Reply to Parliamentary Question on the European Commission’s decision to repeal the equivalence status for Singapore credit rating agencies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Q3026. Dr Lim Wee Kiak, MP, Sembawang GRC

Q3027. Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP, MacPherson SMC

Question:

Q3026. To ask the Prime Minister (a) what will be the impact of the withdrawal of market access rights to the European Union on our financial institutions; (b) what is the Government doing to mitigate the impact; and (c) how rigorous is our regulation of crediting ratings agencies as compared with that of the EU.

Q3027. To ask the Prime Minister (a) what are the implications of the European Commission’s decision to withdraw some market access rights of Singapore; (b) how may this affect investor confidence; and (c) what may be the interpretations of this move against the broader developments around the world.

Answer Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1. Some media reports might have given the impression that the European Commission (EC) is reducing its market access to financial institutions in Singapore. This is not true. There continues to be no impediment, for financial services provided out of Singapore to customers in the European Union (EU). There has also been no impact on investors’ confidence in Singapore.

2. Let me explain. The EC’s decision covers only Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) and does not extend to any other financial services. Further, the EC recognises CRAs in a third country through two approaches:

First, deeming the third country’s CRA rules as equivalent to EC rules. This is called the equivalence decision;

Second, an endorsement approach, where the CRAs in the third country rely on their related entities in the EU to endorse their ratings.

CRAs in Singapore have been using the endorsement approach, and the EC has confirmed that it will continue to recognise Singapore-based CRAs using this approach.

3. Having said that, equivalence is the highest form of market integration, which CRAs in Singapore, like those in several other jurisdictions, no longer enjoy. The reason has to do with the different approaches taken by major regulators internationally. Dr Lim asked how MAS’ regulations on CRAs compare to those in the EU. Mr Leon Perera also raised a similar question for the next Parliament Sitting.

4. MAS’ CRA regulatory regime is based on, and consistent with, standards promulgated by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), which is the global standard setting body. The EC has assessed MAS’ CRA regulatory regime to be less prescriptive than EU rules in certain areas, such as in defining specific situations in which a conflict of interest for the CRA arises. MAS takes a more principles-based approach. It nevertheless requires conflicts of interest to be effectively addressed, and is fully in line with international standards and appropriate to our context and needs.

5. Singapore is in good standing with the EU. We have EC recognition on a broad range of other financial services, including for over-the-counter derivatives trading venues and central counterparties. In July 2019, we were one of the first two jurisdictions to obtain EC equivalence for financial benchmarks regulation. MAS will continue to closely engage our EU counterparts in reviewing our rules to ensure that financial institutions in Singapore continue to have access to the EU market in various financial services.

Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore