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Singapore and Australia sign Digital Economy Agreement

PHOTO CREDIT: dfat.gov.au

Australia and Singapore yesterday signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) to harness digital transformation and technology to expand trade and economic ties in the region. Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the DEA digitally via videoconference.

The SADEA is the second Digital Economy Agreement that Singapore has signed, following the signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Chile and New Zealand in June this year.

At a time of global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the signing of the DEA demonstrates Australia and Singapore’s recognition of the value of digital trade in forging a path to a post-COVID economic recovery.

Mr Chan said, “The signing of the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement marks a milestone in the long standing and multi-faceted partnership between our two countries. The SADEA will facilitate digitalisation of trade processes and make it easier and more cost effective for Singapore companies to engage in cross border business activities with Australia.

“As COVID-19 forces businesses to consider innovative ways to reach customers and adapt to a new way of doing business, agreements like the SADEA will allow our companies to take advantage of opportunities in the digital economy and tap on new technologies to create new digital products and services.”

Singapore and Australia enjoy strong bilateral trade and investment flows and the SADEA builds on this foundation to enhance economic opportunities in the digital realm. With the SADEA, Singapore and Australia aim to create a seamless digital trading environment which is crucial for businesses during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Enhancing economic opportunities in the digital realm

It will also enable trusted cross-border data flows without unnecessary and costly requirements such as data localisation, while protecting consumers’ privacy and businesses’ proprietary information.

Australia and Singapore have agreed to set new rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the transfer and location of data, improved protection for software source code, and ensure compatibility between e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks.

Importantly, the DEA will also feature rules for enhanced business and consumer trust in digital trade and cooperation in creating a safe online environment, and protecting personal information and consumer rights.

The Digital Economy Agreement is further supported by MoUs on data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, e-invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, personal data protection and digital identity

The signing today follows the conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020. The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification. When the DEA enters into force it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter.

PHOTO CREDIT: dfat.gov.au

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