BRUSSELS - Ties between Singapore and the European Union will expand into the digital realm under a new pact, which will see the two sides working together on issues such as making safe data exchange possible and using digital solutions to make supply chains more resilient.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, announcing the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership on Wednesday, said the upcoming pact has transformative potential for the future of both economies.
It also builds on longstanding cooperation between both sides in the areas of trade, research and technology, they added in a joint statement.
In their statement, the two leaders said: “At a time of turmoil and change, we are taking another major step to deepen our strategic partnership for the benefit of our citizens, consumers and businesses.”
The partnership, which was first proposed in December 2021 at a trade committee meeting under the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, will advance cooperation on various digital issues.
These include trade facilitation, trusted data flows and data innovation, digital trust, standards, digital skills for workers, and the digital transformation of businesses and public services. The partnership will also facilitate joint efforts to make supply chains more resilient and advance new and emerging areas such as 5G/6G, artificial intelligence and digital identities.
Both parties also agreed on a set of digital trade principles that reflect a joint commitment to an open digital economy and are meant to provide a common framework to boost digital trade between both sides and with the world.
“We aim to build on these principles to enact a set of bilateral digital trade rules,” said the two leaders in the statement.
“We believe that the forward-looking digital trade engagements between the EU and Singapore will complement and support ongoing World Trade Organisation negotiations to put in place global rules on electronic commerce.”
The statement was issued on Wednesday following a meeting between both leaders on the sidelines of the Asean-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels.
At their meeting, the leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and noted a common interest in supporting free trade, multilateralism, and a rules-based international order, said PM Lee’s press secretary, Ms Chang Li Lin.
Singapore and the EU also enjoy good relations, underpinned by strong economic ties. PM Lee said he was confident that the strong relations would be further enhanced by collaborations in the digital realm, while the new partnership will also pave the way for greater digital connectivity between Asean and the EU.
On the bilateral front, PM Lee met several leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
Earlier on Wednesday, he met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
He also met Austrian Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer in the afternoon. Both leaders reaffirmed the warm and longstanding relations between the two countries, and noted the potential to enhance bilateral cooperation and deepen economic engagement, said Ms Chang.
PM Lee’s trip to Europe began in the northern German port city of Kiel, where he launched two Republic of Singapore Navy submarines on Monday. He also met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the second time in a month, before flying to Brussels to attend the summit.