Singapore and the United Kingdom have negotiation talks on a digital economy agreement, UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA).
According to a statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, the new partnership will look to facilitate digital trade and open up new opportunities do enable business digitally between Singapore and the UK. This will include establishing “forward-looking rules” to enable trusted cross-border data flows, prohibit data localisation, and ensure high standards in data protection.
With the thriving innovation ecosystems in the UK and Singapore, the partnership will also explore the use of emerging and innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Minister S Iswaran said the digital economy is a catalyst for economic growth and the transformation of enterprises. “It is a bright spot that has remained resilient despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am pleased that Singapore is enhancing our network of Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) with a like-minded and digitally progressive partner like the UK. The UKSDEA will build on the momentum of the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and promote trusted, robust and connected digital markets for the benefit of our people and businesses,” he said.
As the first DEA between an Asian and a European country, the UKSDEA will also enhance region-to-region digital connectivity, enabling businesses to use Singapore and the UK as digital gateways to access new opportunities in Asia and Europe.
“Under the agreement, we aim to explore cooperation to connect our technology ecosystems, and open up opportunities for startups,” read the statement.
Last year, former minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss signed the UK Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Singapore to start scoping the modules of a UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA).
Under the UK-Singapore FTA, Singapore and UK companies enjoyed the same benefits that they are receiving under the EU-Singapore FTA (EUSFTA). These include tariff elimination for goods trade, increased access to their respective services and government procurement markets, as well as reduction of non-tariff barriers including in four major sectors: electronics; motor vehicles and vehicle parts; pharmaceutical products and medical devices; and renewable energy generation.