SINGAPORE – Singapore, Chile and New Zealand formalised their agreement to cooperate on key emerging issues in the digital economy with the signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) on Friday (June 12).

Businesses here will find it easier to conduct their trade activities digitally, thus increasing operational efficiency and lowering costs, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post after the signing, which was done electronically via videoconference with New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker and Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Ribera Neumann.

The DEPA is the first digital economy agreement (DEA) that Singapore has signed and is also its first international treaty to be electronically signed, noted Mr Chan.

“As Singapore looks to resume economic activities amid Covid-19, DEAs such as the DEPA will help to facilitate trade and business by promoting connectivity between the digital systems of Singapore and our partner countries,” he said.

Digital economy agreements seek to establish clear and harmonised international rules, and allow free data flow between countries with appropriate safeguards.

The electronic signing also signifies Singapore’s commitment to overcome geographical limitations and maintain trade and business activities, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Chan.

The agreement promotes interoperability between the systems in the three countries, which have begun to embark on joint projects to operationalise key aspects of the agreement, said Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority in a joint statement on Friday.

For example, Singapore is working with New Zealand on the International Connectivity System, which will include the exchange of e-certificates for animal products such as meat and meat products with New Zealand.

Mr Chan said the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the pace of digital transformation globally, so as more businesses carry out their activities in the digital sphere, agreements such as the DEPA will be even more critical in helping businesses transact and trade seamlessly.

The Republic will continue to work closely with like-minded partners to strengthen its digital connectivity to help businesses tap opportunities in the digital economy, he said.

“Singapore has enjoyed longstanding and warm relations with Chile and New Zealand. With the signing of DEPA, we will work even more closely in the digital economy and enhance economic ties to emerge from the pandemic stronger,” he said.

He encouraged firms here to tap on DEPA and participate in Singapore’s digitalisation initiatives, such as SMEs Go Digital and Nationwide E-invoicing Network, to reach more international markets.

The digital economy in South-east Asia is expected to grow to US$300 billion (S$417 billion) by 2025.

More information for businesses on digital economy agreements and related digitalisation initiatives can be found here.

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