Singapore concludes negotiations on Digital Economy Agreements

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Singapore and the United Kingdom (UK) have substantially concluded negotiations on the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA), according to MTI.

The UKSDEA will be Singapore’s third DEA, following the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement with Chile and New Zealand, and the Singapore-Australia DEA. The agreement includes binding disciplines on cornerstones of the digital economy, such as data, as well as cooperative elements in a wide range of emerging and innovative areas such as Artificial Intelligence, fintech and regtech, digital identities and legal technology.

There are three key thrusts in the UKSDEA. First, facilitating seamless end-to-end digital trade through common and interoperable digital systems for e-payments, e-invoicing and other key electronic documents such as bills of lading. Second, enabling trusted data flows by ensuring high standards in data protection and prohibit data localisation requirements, including in financial services.  Third, facilitating a trusted and secure digital environment, and promoting participation in the digital economy by people and businesses, especially Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, Mr S Iswaran said, “Singapore’s digital economy agreements build on and enhance the economic connectivity established through our extensive network of free trade agreements.

“The UKSDEA will enable businesses, especially our SMEs, to leverage a greater range of opportunities in our combined and growing digital markets.” 

Singapore has also concluded negotations with the Republic of Korea (ROK) on the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA).

The KSDPA will be Singapore’s fourth Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), and the first with an Asian country. The agreement will deepen bilateral cooperation in the digital economy between both countries, by establishing forward looking digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for businesses and consumers.

The KSDPA will prohibit data localisation except for specific purposes such as regulatory access. This allows businesses to transfer data securely as part of their daily business operations and allows businesses to choose where they may wish to store and process their data, according to their business needs.

It will also deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging areas like Personal Information Protection, E-payments, and Source Code protection. ROK and Singapore will also identify cross-border opportunities to facilitate Artificial Intelligence innovation and collaborations.

The DEA will complement Singapore’s efforts to develop multilateral rules to create an enabling environment for e-commerce as co-convenor of the World Trade Organization Joint Statement Initiative on E-commerce.

As part of the KSDPA’s efforts to facilitate trust in digital systems and participation in the Digital Economy, Singapore and ROK seek to cooperate to promote jobs and growth for SMEs, as well as encourage their participation in platforms that help link them with international suppliers, buyers, and other potential business partners. 

Second Minister for Trade and Industry Dr Tan See Leng said that “by aligning standards, enabling trusted data flows and allowing cross border digital transactions to take place more seamlessly, the KSDPA will open up opportunities for our businesses and people in the rapidly growing digital economy.”