30 March 2022
On 25 February 2022, Singapore and the UK finalised the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (“Agreement”), that had been agreed on in December 2021. The Agreement is Singapore’s fourth digital agreement and the UK’s first.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (“MTI”) released the text of the opening remarks given by Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran at the Agreement signing ceremony.
This article sets out some of the key points highlighted by the Minister.
The Minister noted that the historical trade connectivity between the two countries is underpinned by a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement, the first between the UK and a country in South-east Asia. Such links bear testament to the growing and evolving partnership between the two countries.
The Agreement brings this connectivity into the digital realm. The Minister noted that the Agreement would in effect be not only bilateral but also regional and global. By enabling seamless digital trade, trusted data flows and secure digital environments, businesses are enabled to use Singapore and the UK as digital gateways to access opportunities in Asia, Europe and the world.
The Agreement will also contribute to global norms as it sets a benchmark for high-standard digital trade rules, going further than earlier agreements in some areas.
Benefits for business
The Agreement will enable trusted data flows in all sectors, including financial services, by setting high standards for personal data protection, facilitating
cross-border data flows and prohibiting data localisation requirements.
It will reduce costs and enhance efficiencies for businesses, especially SMEs, through interoperable digital systems for e-payments and electronic documents such as e-invoices and e-bills of lading.
The Agreement will be complemented with collaborative projects. To date, Singapore and the UK have concluded three Memoranda of Understanding on Digital Trade Facilitation, Digital Identities, and Cyber Security, as well as two side-letters on FinTech and Customs cooperation.