Singapore, Chile and New Zealand launched trilateral talks on the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) on the sidelines of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting Chile recently.
Digitalisation has transformed business models and trade, opening up unparalleled opportunities and choices for businesses and consumers if the challenges of fragmented digital frameworks, standards and systems can be addressed. The extent of cross-border interoperability will determine how far companies and citizens can realise the potential of trade in the digital economy.
The DEPA, initiated by Singapore, is an opportunity for Singapore, Chile and New Zealand to set forward-looking standards on digital trade, and establish new international approaches to support the digital economy and trade in the digital era.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing who announced the DEPA together with his Chile and New Zealand counterparts said, “Digital trade is a key source of our economic growth. Businesses that are able to navigate and tap on international markets in the new digital environment will have a competitive advantage. Singapore is a strong proponent of an integrated, global digital economy. We are glad to champion this new Agreement with Chile and New Zealand. It complements Singapore’s network of free trade agreements as well as our efforts as co-convenor of the World Trade Organization Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce to develop baseline digital trade rules.”
The DEPA aims to address emerging issues that impact the digital economy, such as governance for artificial intelligence, e-payments, e-invoicing and digital identities. It will set high standards, and provide a benchmark for international trade rules that benefit businesses and support SMEs’ digitalisation and internationalisation efforts. As a trilateral agreement, the DEPA will increase digital connectivity and strengthen economic ties between Singapore, Chile and New Zealand.
The DEPA is an inter-agency effort led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information and the Infocomm Media Development Authority. It also involves relevant agencies such as the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.
Kevin Fitzgerald, Regional Director – Asia, Xero said, “We see the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) as a practicable next step following calls from the Singapore government for local businesses to venture beyond its shores to increase competitiveness. With the rise of a digital economy, we are witnessing increasing globalisation as previous geographical boundaries are blurred or broken down. However, the existence of differing local regulations and compliance serve as a natural barrier for SMEs that might encounter challenges when penetrating new markets. The introduction of DEPA would hopefully establish a common set of standards and compliance to facilitate secure and smooth transactions and movement of funds that ultimately drives digital trade.”
Added Gladys Chun, General Counsel & Head of Government Affairs, Lazada group,
“The Digital Economy Partnership Agreement will help promote cross border trade. It is heartening to see Singapore making a push for this agreement and we hope to see such agreements being developed with countries in Southeast Asia to advance the growth of e-commerce across borders.”