Singapore, New Zealand, Chile finalize digital economy pact negotiations
Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile have finalized negotiations for the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) that addresses e-invoicing, digital identities, fintech, data flows, artificial intelligence, digital trade and investment opportunities, writes ZDNet.
The next step is to officially sign it and enforce it, as it encourages interoperability among countries “by aligning standards and addressing new issues,” according to a joint statement released by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker and Chile’s Vice Minister for Trade Rodrigo Yanez. Other countries are welcome to join the pact, if they wish.
“As the nature of commerce and trade evolves due to digitalization, it is important that we build new forms of cross-border linkages in order to create opportunities for our businesses to thrive in the digital economy,” said Chan.
Under the agreement, the three governments hope to improve connectivity and institute digital trade regulations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The pact is an additional commitment to previously signed free trade agreements, Singapore said, and it is part of its responsibilities for digital growth and trade rules which come with being co-convener of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce.
“We recognize that digitalization has transformed the nature of trade, and that as small, outward-facing and trade-dependent countries, we share a common objective of advancing trade in the digital era,” reads the statement. “We also recognize that current trade rules and policies do not fully address the new issues brought about by digitalization and digital trade.”
The countries joined forces to address digital concerns such as electronic documentation in cross-border trade, personal data protection, and cybersecurity. Digital identities, for example, could be introduced to promote digital trade, while cutting down on document transit time for cross-border trade would reduce operating costs.
Under the agreement, cross-border network interoperability and the synchronization of National Single Windows (NSW) would enable customs officers to share information about electronic trade documents for clearance, such as Certificates of Origin and Bills of Landing.
Data protection is a key concern addressed by the pact, because personal information would be exchanged under the electronic transactions across borders. Each country has its own policy and regulations that companies need to be compliant with before data can leave their network, but DEPA hopes to solve this by introducing guidelines in line with global legal frameworks.
In June, Australia and Singapore announced the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement that would leverage digital transformation and technology to broaden trade and economic relations in the region. The two began negotiations in October.