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Singapore Advances Asia Pacific Digital Economy Partnerships

The ministers of Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), and the Republic of Korea (ROK) recently convened to discuss the ROK’s participation in the DEPA.

The DEPA parties are confident that the talks about the ROK joining this world-leading agreement have come to an end positively. This makes the ROK the first partner to join outside of founding members Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore.

“As the first aspirant economy, the substantial conclusion of accession negotiations of the Republic of Korea to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement is a significant milestone,” said S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Minister in Charge of Trade Relations.

With open, interoperable standards and shared principles, the DEPA gives its Parties an important way to work together in new areas that could affect digital trade. The country is glad to have the ROK as the fourth party to the DEPA and is looking forward to working with the ROK on projects that will help both businesses and people.

The DEPA is a new way for businesses and people to work together and deal in the digital age. It sets up new ways to think about and work together on digital trade issues, encourages interoperability between different systems, and deals with the new problems that digitalisation has brought up. It is meant to be a framework that is open and includes all countries that can meet the standards of the Agreement.

Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore, which are all DEPA Parties, signed the DEPA in June 2020. The ROK officially asked to join the DEPA in September 2021, and in October 2021, the Accession Working Group (AWG) was set up to manage the process. The AWG is led by Singapore.

The AWG agreed that the ROK had shown how it would meet the high standards set by the Agreement. There was also a good chance that DEPA parties could work together on projects of mutual interest, such as electronic invoicing, protecting consumers, exchanging electronic trade papers, and transferring data across borders. The AWG will work with the ROK to finish the process of joining DEPA on time and in a way that follows the rules of each country and the DEPA Accession Process.

Claudia Sanhueza, Chile’s Vice Minister of International Economic Affairs, said that Chile is very happy to hear that talks with Korea are almost done and that Chile is ready to be the first country to join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement.

The increasing desire of economies to join this agreement demonstrates the significance of addressing these issues in international trade. They anticipate enhancing the potential for DEPA parties to collaborate on initiatives of mutual interest in emerging areas that may impact digital commerce.

According to the New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, New Zealand is very delighted that Korea will become the DEPA’s first new member, given Korea’s strengths in the digital economy and its close bilateral ties. The accession of Korea promotes the DEPA as a model agreement to attract other nations with comparable digital economy goals. As partners, they aim to inform and establish new international digital trade regulations and agreements.

Minister for Trade of the Republic of Korea Dukgeun Ahn stated that the substantial conclusion of Korea’s accession negotiations to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement signifies Korea’s commitment to strengthening its digital trade network.

In addition to the Republic of Korea, China, Canada, Costa Rica, and Peru have formally requested membership in the DEPA. The AWG discussions between China and Canada are ongoing. The DEPA Parties are eager to continue discussions with Costa Rica and engage with Peru.


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