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Singapore and UK to negotiate digital economy agreement

Out-Law News | 13 Jul 2021 | 3:42 am | 1 min. read

Singapore and the UK have started negotiating a UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA), which will be the first such agreement between an Asian and a European country, according to Singapore press reports.

According to a statement, the Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) “could remove barriers to digital trade and enable UK exporters to expand into high-tech markets”.

Negotiations will focus on export rules for digital goods and services, cross-border data flows and data protection. The aim is to promote digital trading systems to streamline business processes for UK businesses and to deepen cooperation between the two on fintech.

Mark Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “The commencement of negotiations on the UKSDEA highlights the importance being placed by the two like-minded economies on the issue of digital economy collaborations. In this regard, it is envisaged that when the UKSDEA is finalised, it will reinforce Singapore’s aspirations to develop international frameworks that foster interoperability of standards and systems to support its businesses, especially small medium enterprises, that are engaged in digital trade and electronic commerce. ”

“It is also envisaged that this initiative will build on Singapore’s extensive network of free trade agreements and other digital cooperation initiatives and encourage greater cooperation in other areas, such as artificial intelligence (AI), and facilitate interoperability between digital systems, as well as enhance digital connectivity,” he said.

In 2019, 70% of UK services exports from financial and legal services to music streaming and e-books, were digitally delivered to Singapore, worth $4.4bn.

Singapore signed DEA with Australia, Chile and New Zealand in 2020.