How UK-S'pore digital trade deal will help businesses, consumers

Singapore and the United Kingdom substantially concluded negotiations on the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA) yesterday.

The agreement covers key areas of the digital economy, such as data, as well as a wide range of emerging and innovative areas such as artificial intelligence, fintech, digital identities and legal technology, according to a statement jointly issued by Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Here is a look at some of the key features of the agreement and how they will help businesses and consumers.

ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS

The agreement promotes rules for the development of software that allows two applications to talk to each other and facilitates the adoption of internationally accepted standards to promote interoperability between e-payment systems.

PAPERLESS TRADING

The agreement allows the acceptance of electronic versions of trade documents, facilitates cross-border digitalisation of supply chains and promotes interoperability of electronic documents such as bills of lading and invoices.

This will enable faster and cheaper transactions and reduce costs for businesses.

CROSS-BORDER DATA FLOWS

Businesses in the two countries will be allowed to transfer information, including that which is generated or held by financial institutions, more seamlessly across borders with the assurance that they meet the requisite regulations.

PROHIBIT DATA LOCALISATION

This essentially means that both countries will allow businesses to choose where their data is stored.

CRYPTOGRAPHY

This refers to protecting information by transforming it into a secure format. Neither country will require the transfer of, or access to, technologies used in cryptography by a company as a condition of market access.

ONLINE CONSUMER PROTECTION

Adopt or maintain laws and regulations that guard against fraudulent, misleading or deceptive conduct that causes harm to consumers engaged in online commercial activities.

SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES COOPERATION

Singapore and the UK will seek to cooperate in promoting jobs and growth for SMEs, and encourage their participation in e-commerce platforms that will help link them with international suppliers, buyers and potential business partners.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2021, with the headline How UK-S'pore digital trade deal will help businesses, consumers. Subscribe