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SBF welcomes the conclusion of Singapore’s Digital Economy Agreement with Australia

Monday, 23 March 2020 [Singapore] The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) welcomes the conclusion of Singapore’s Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) with Australia and the accompanying Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). The commitment of both countries to advance the digital economy agenda in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic is highly encouraging.

The conclusion of the DEA further solidifies the leadership role Singapore is taking up globally on digital trade rules and the digital economy. This Agreement follows the conclusion of Singapore’s Digital Economy Partnership Agreement with Chile and New Zealand in January this year. Singapore is also leading negotiations on a WTO e-Commerce agreement with Australia and Japan. We look forward to the Government’s continued efforts to shape global rulemaking on digital issues and maximising opportunities in the global digital economy for Singapore businesses.

The DEA covers a comprehensive range of digital issues, ranging from ensuring unimpeded cross-border data flows and prohibiting data localisation to supporting e-Commerce via e-payment, e-invoicing, and trade facilitation initiatives. Businesses will look forward most to the accompanying MOUs that will bring about immediate benefits or demonstrate the feasibility of initiatives. In particular, we look forward to the Digital ID pilot project that will facilitate the opening of bank accounts and application of visas, open data platforms, and the Trusted Data Sharing Framework. By creating the necessary ecosystems and paving the way for businesses to participate through pilot projects, both governments will be demonstrating the immediate benefits and growth opportunities accorded by the digital economy. In the longer term, the use and development of international standards, improving interoperability of regulatory systems and digital intellectual property protection will give business confidence to engage in cross-border trade and investment. The APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system is one such initiative supported by this Agreement that ensures regulatory differences do not hinder the ability of businesses to innovate.

SBF CEO, Mr Ho Meng Kit said, “SBF is pleased that both governments have paid attention to business feedback in developing this Agreement, which includes the joint statement made by SBF and the Australia Services Roundtable in December 2019. We look forward to working with relevant agencies to better inform Singapore businesses of the opportunities presented by these agreements and engage in further dialogue on what businesses would like to see included in future agreements.”

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