Joint Press Release by Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information and Infocomm Media Development Authority
Singapore and the United Kingdom (UK) have substantially concluded negotiations on the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA). Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations Mr S Iswaran and the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan jointly announced this today at an in-person bilateral meeting in London, during Mr Iswaran’s visit to the UK.
Mr Iswaran said, “Singapore’s digital economy agreements build on the economic connectivity established through our extensive network of free trade agreements. I am pleased that Singapore and the UK, as like-minded and digitally progressive partners, have substantially concluded an ambitious and cutting-edge digital economy agreement. Reflecting our shared ambition, the UKSDEA builds upon and, in some areas, goes further than our existing agreements. It will set a global benchmark for high-standard digital trade rules, and benefit people and businesses in our two countries. The UKSDEA will enable businesses, especially our SMEs, to leverage a greater range of opportunities in our combined and growing digital markets.”
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 n the UKSDEA.
First, advancing end-to-end digital trade. The agreement will facilitate 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. This will enable faster and cheaper transactions, and reduce costs for businesses.
Second, enabling trusted data flows. The agreement will ensure high standards in data protection and prohibit data localisation requirements, including in financial services.
Third, facilitating a trusted and secure digital environment, and promote participation in the digital economy. For companies, this includes the protection of source codes (including embedded algorithms) and private keys in cryptography. For consumers, this includes guarding against fraudulent, misleading or deceptive conduct online. The UKSDEA will also promote cross-cutting participation in the digital economy by people and businesses, especially Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Under the UKSDEA, Singapore and the UK are also pursuing cooperative projects that provide a dynamic framework for bilateral cooperation on forward-looking and emerging issues. To date, both countries have signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in Digital Trade Facilitation, Digital Identities, and Cyber Security. Such partnerships make digital transactions easier, safer and cheaper, enabling businesses in both countries to seize opportunities in the growing digital economy. Please see Annex B for more information.
Singapore and the UK enjoy strong economic ties, with the UK being Singapore’s largest services trading partner in Europe. In 2019, bilateral services trade exceeded S$22 billion, of which around 70% could have been digitally delivered. The UK is also our second largest European investor and European investment destination, with over S$100 billion worth of UK investment stock in Singapore, and close to S$60 billion worth of Singapore investment stock in the UK.
The UKSDEA is part of a series of DEAs that Singapore has embarked upon. These agreements are an inter-agency effort led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, to advance collaboration in the digital economy and enhance digital connectivity.
Annex A: Key Features of the United Kingdom-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
Annex B: United Kingdom-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement Infographic
Annex C: Quotes from companies on United Kingdom-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement