Singapore, Chile and New Zealand have signed an agreement that will bolster cooperation on issues in the digital economy.
Businesses here will find it easier to conduct trade activity digitally, which will improve efficiency and lower costs, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said after yesterday's signing, which was done electronically.
His counterparts were New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Chile's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Teodoro Ribera Neumann.
Negotiations for the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (Depa), as it is called, began in May last year.
It is the first digital economy pact Singapore has signed and is also its first international treaty to be electronically inked, noted Mr Chan.
"As Singapore looks to resume economic activities amid Covid-19, digital economy agreements 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.
"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."
Such agreements aim to set up clear and harmonised international rules and allow free data flow with appropriate safeguards.
One of the aims of the agreement is to have various systems in the three countries operate seamlessly together to improve trade flows.
One initiative already taking shape involves Singapore working with New Zealand on a system that will include the exchange of e-certificates for animal products, such as meat and meat products, said Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority in a joint statement.
Mr Chan said signing the agreement electronically also signifies Singapore's commitment to overcome geographical limitations and maintain trade and business activities, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that the outbreak has greatly accelerated the pace of digital transformation globally, so as more businesses carry out their activities in the digital sphere, pacts such as the Depa will be even more critical in facilitating trade.
Singapore also started talks on a similar agreement with Australia last October.
Mr Chan encouraged local firms here to tap the Depa and participate in Singapore's digitalisation initiatives, such as SMEs Go Digital and the 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.
For more information on digital economy agreements and related digitalisation initiatives, go to www.mti.gov.sg/Improving-Trade/Free-Trade-Agreements/Digital-Economy-Ag…