Annex A: Joint Ministerial Statement
The United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore are pleased to announce the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on digital cooperation in the areas of Digital Trade Facilitation, Digital Identities and Cyber Security between the governments of the UK and Singapore. These MOUs strengthen the digital connectivity between the UK and Singapore, and will support the shared goals and key tenets of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), where negotiations are ongoing and targeted for agreement in principle in the near-term.
In 2019, 70% of UK cross-border services exports to Singapore were digitally-delivered (equating to £3.2bn). These MOUs will further support opportunities to grow digital delivery of cross-border services between the UK and Singapore, provide a basis for working closely with like-minded digital partners, and help set a global benchmark on high-standards digital cooperation to bring economic and societal benefits to both countries. These MOUs also provide a dynamic framework for continued bilateral cooperation on forward-looking and emerging issues.
MOU 1: Digital Trade Facilitation
The Digital Trade Facilitation MOU seeks to unlock opportunities and provide solutions to barriers faced when digitising trade between the UK and Singapore. As like-minded partners in this area, sharing of knowledge and implementation of pilot projects between the UK and Singapore on areas such as electronic trade documents and electronic invoicing will help to drive the development and adoption of digital trade facilitation solutions at a bilateral and international level.
The benefits of the digitalisation of trade include reduced costs for businesses driving competitive pricing for consumers, a reduction in the carbon footprint of trade, and improving accessibility by Small and Medium Enterprises to engage in cross-border trade. The sharing of best practices will also influence the creation of secure global supply chains and interoperable digital ecosystems.
For example, a pilot scheme to simulate the transfer of electronic bills of lading will lay the foundation for businesses to enjoy a digital ecosystem for cross-border trade transactions. Using electronic Bills of Lading decreases cost, fraud risk and transaction times, as businesses no longer have to physically manage hardcopy trade documents. With the establishment of a pilot project to share information and encourage the adoption of e-invoicing, businesses will also be enabled to transact with their overseas partners seamlessly.
MOU 2: Digital Identities Cooperation
With the growing volume of digital transactions, the ability to reliably verify one’s identity has become increasingly important. The Digital Identities Cooperation MOU promotes greater cooperation between the UK and Singapore in the field of digital identity, with the aim of developing mutual recognition and interoperability between the respective digital identity regimes.
The MOU lays the foundation for a roadmap towards mutual recognition of digital identities between the UK and Singapore, based on the principle of mutual interest and benefit. It is an important step in the route to achieve interoperability of digital identity regimes between different jurisdictions, which can bring tangible benefits such as more reliable identity verification and faster processing of applications. This would in turn reduce barriers in cross-border trade and enable businesses and individuals to navigate the international digital economy with greater ease, confidence and security.
MOU 3: Cyber Security
The Cyber Security MOU acknowledges the shared vision between the UK and Singapore in maintaining the economic and social benefits of an open, peaceful and secure cyberspace. The two countries also acknowledge their common interest in addressing the international challenges and promoting bilateral collaborations to strengthen cyber security. The MOU will build on strong existing cyber cooperation between the UK and Singapore in seeking opportunities for collaboration in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT) security, promoting cyber resilience and capacity building. As cyber security underpins the digital economy by promoting secure digital trade, the MOU will also build on existing workstreams between the UK and Singapore to build a secure and resilient cyberspace for businesses and consumers.