South Korea seeking to join digital economy pact between Singapore, New Zealand and Chile

Ministers and senior officials from the three member states have agreed to start negotiations for South Korea to accede to the pact.
Ministers and senior officials from the three member states have agreed to start negotiations for South Korea to accede to the pact.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - South Korea has expressed interest in joining Singapore, New Zealand and Chile in their partnership to cooperate on key emerging issues in the digital economy.

Ministers and senior officials from the three member states which inked the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (Depa) last year have agreed to begin negotiations for South Korea to accede to the pact.

A working group chaired by Singapore has been formed to oversee this, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday (Oct 5).

The Depa establishes common rules on digital trade and fosters cooperation and interoperability between the digital systems of different countries. It is an inter-agency effort led by MTI, MCI and IMDA, with support from various other Singapore agencies.

The agreement entered into force for Singapore and New Zealand in January. Chile ratified the Depa in August and it will enter into force there on Nov 23.

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, who represented Singapore at a Depa ministerial meeting held in Paris on Tuesday, congratulated Chile on ratifying the agreement.

He added: "We look forward to working with Chile and New Zealand to facilitate discussions on South Korea's accession."

Leaders from the four nations, including South Korea, convened to discuss preparations in the lead-up to the 12th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference, which will be held in Geneva from Nov 30 to Dec 3.

The joint statement said a key thrust of the Depa is to identify and facilitate collaboration projects between members.

One example is the Peppol electronic invoicing framework adopted by Singapore and New Zealand, said the statement.

It added: "Adopting a common framework allows businesses in both countries to transact with their overseas partners seamlessly, and facilitates shorter invoice processing times, faster payments, and cost savings."

About 40,000 enterprises in Singapore have adopted e-invoicing solutions based on Peppol to date.

MTI, MCI and IMDA said this would provide a strong foundation for interoperability as more businesses come on board and cross-border transactions increase.

The digital economy in South-east Asia is expected to grow to US$300 billion (S$407 billion) by 2025.