Britain is looking at the digital economy as an area in which it can strengthen its relationship with Singapore as it negotiates a new post-Brexit trade deal with the Republic.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that while the new deal will be based on the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a digital economy partnership can help take the relationship between the two countries to the next level.
"If we ought to think for the future, actually this is something that can broaden and deepen our relationship," he said yesterday, during a visit to the Rolls-Royce corporate laboratory at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
Mr Raab referred to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) Singapore concluded with New Zealand and Chile last month, and the ongoing talks over the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement.
The agreements are aimed at codifying a common set of rules, standards and guidelines for global digital trade and commerce.
Mr Raab, who is on a tour of Asia and has just concluded his visit to Japan, said both the United Kingdom and Singapore are eager to proceed towards a new trade deal "as swiftly as practical".
"For the UK, this would be one of the first wave of post-Brexit trade agreements. We are forging a template for the future, so we are going to be careful about it," he said.
Britain formally left the EU on Jan 31, but there will be a transition period until Dec 31. During this period, the UK will be treated functionally as an EU member state and continue to be a party to the EU's international agreements, including the EU-Singapore FTA, which came into force last November.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan hosted a breakfast for Mr Raab.
A Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said the meeting acknowledged the importance of ensuring trade and business continuity between the two countries as the UK works out its relationship with the EU.
Mr Raab and Mr Balakrishnan also discussed ways to enhance cooperation in various areas, including the digital economy, while reiterating their commitment to multilateralism, free trade and sustainable development, said the statement.
We agreed that there were many areas of common interest between the UK and Singapore. As like-minded partners, we can deepen our future bilateral cooperation in the areas of digital economy and climate change.
TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING, in a Facebook post after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
During his visit to NTU, Mr Raab said the Asean region, and Singapore in particular, is a "linchpin to our strategy for the future, and we are genuinely committed to it".
He had a separate meeting with Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
Mr Chan said in a Facebook post: "We agreed that there were many areas of common interest between the UK and Singapore. As like-minded partners, we can deepen our future bilateral cooperation in the areas of digital economy and climate change."
The UK is hosting the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Glasgow in November.
"In that regard, we would like to see how we can take the comparative advantage the UK and Singapore have in technology and entrepreneurship to come up with the green innovations of the future," Mr Raab said at NTU.
He was also scheduled to call on Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Mr Raab will travel to Malaysia today, wrapping up a tour that included Australia.