S'pore, Chile, New Zealand to assess Canada's application to join digital trade pact

Earlier this year, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed Canada's application to join Depa in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (right). PHOTOS: ST FILE, REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, the three members of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (Depa), will start the formal process to assess Canada's request to join the digital trade pact.

This comes after Canada made a formal application to join Depa on May 9.

The pact, which came into force in December 2020, was a pioneering agreement that established new approaches and collaborations in digital trade issues among the signatory countries.

In a joint statement on Thursday (Aug 25), Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority said that a working group chaired by New Zealand will examine Canada's request.

The working group, which comprises government representatives from member countries, will also discuss Canada's ability to comply with the standards and commitments of the pact, and submit a report to the Depa joint committee on the proposed terms and conditions of Canada's accession to the partnership.

Aspiring members will be required to demonstrate their efforts to date, and the changes that will need to be made to their domestic laws and regulations - if any - to meet the obligations under the agreement.

Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said that Singapore welcomes Canada's application to join Depa and looks forward to having more aspirant economies join the agreement.

"With countries recovering from Covid-19, which has accelerated digital transformation, more businesses will benefit from the inter-operability across systems that Depa fosters as well as the benchmark it provides for international trade rules. 

"These will help support businesses with their digitalisation and internationalisation efforts," he added.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed Canada's application to join Depa in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau.

China and South Korea have also requested to join the digital trade pact.

Chile is chairing the working group assessing China's application, while Singapore is leading the discussions over South Korea's application.

Depa aims to facilitate end-to-end digital trade, enable trusted data flows, and build trust in digital systems.

It promotes cooperation among companies in the fintech sector and develops fintech solutions for businesses, and adopts or maintains laws for online consumer protection.

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