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UK and Ukraine sign digital trade deal, collaborate on digital identity

UK and Ukraine sign digital trade deal, collaborate on digital identity
 

The UK and Ukraine have agreed a digital trade deal which is intended to help the Ukrainian economy and future recovery by focusing on the countries’ digital output. The Digital Trade Agreement (DTA) includes provision for collaboration on digital identity, similar to the UK’s previous DTA with Singapore.

For digital identity, the Ukraine may have a lot to teach the UK. The agreement follows a similar collaboration, more focused on digital ID, with Estonia.

The agreement is the first of its kind for Ukraine and only the second for the UK. “Trading digitally is particularly important in the current conflict, where damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and warfare makes it much harder to trade physically,” states the UK’s Department for International Trade.

“Digital tools and technologies will help Ukrainians access everyday vital goods and services during the war.”

Ukraine will have access to financial services and the deal establishes greater cooperation on cybersecurity and emerging technologies.

“This digital trade agreement illustrates that Ukrainian IT companies operating in Ukraine are in demand around the world despite all the challenges of war,” comments Ukraine’s First Deputy PM and Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko.

Ukraine NOW, the official national website states that the country has more than 200,000 high-skilled IT professionals. Its digital identity system, Diia, is highly sophisticated. The country aims to make all public services available online and as of April 2021, almost 4.5 million Ukrainians had updated the Diia 2.0 mobile app.

It contains nine digital credentials: ID card, biometric passport, student card, driving license, vehicle registration certificate, tax number, birth certificate and identity provider (IDP) certificate for accessing networks.

The UK has a series of Trust Frameworks aimed to guide the private sector into issuing and accepting digital IDs.

The new agreement will “deliver greater compatibility and interoperability between digital identity systems in the UK and Ukraine,” according to an explainer from the UK Department for International Trade.

The countries will work on the “technical interoperability of digital identity implementation; developing comparable protection of digital identities; supporting international frameworks and exploring mutual recognition of digital identities frameworks.”

The deal is so far an agreement in principle. For context, the British government has been at pains to strike international trade deals to validate the idea of a Global Britain it created as a supposed benefit of Brexit. Since the invasion of Ukraine, British prime ministers and particularly Boris Johnson have been keen to be seen in Ukraine and working with the country’s government.

Barriers to digital transformation of the UK government

Meanwhile, the UK Civil Service Digital Skills Report finds that legacy technology and budget constraints as the top issues holding them back from using digital to improve public services, reports the Global Government Forum, with half of respondents naming each issue as the biggest problem.

Another concern was a lack of funded training and a lack of strategic knowledge in government.

The survey also found that among civil servants working on digital transformation projects, even higher rates named outdated tech (63 percent) and budget constraints (50 percent) as the top issues. Seventy-eight percent would like to receive more training.

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