UK and Singapore align closer on digital trade

Three agreements have been signed which focus on facilitating digital trade, cyber security, and digital identities between the two nations

The UK and Singapore have signed agreements to bring the countries closer on digital trade, cyber security, and digital identities, which will underpin a Digital Economy Agreement which is currently being negotiated.

The two countries signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on Monday to support opportunities to grow digital delivery of cross-border services, provide a basis for working closely with like-minded digital partners, and help set a global benchmark on high-standards digital cooperation, said the governments. They also revealed that in 2019, 70% of UK cross-border services exports to Singapore were digitally-delivered, equating to £3.2 billion. 

The first agreement focuses on digital trade facilitation, which aims to reduce barriers to digitally-led trade by encouraging businesses to use electronic invoicing. A pilot project will be established for the transfer of electronic bills of lading, the main commercial document of the shipment of goods, between the countries.

The second agreement aims to bolster the implementation of digital identity systems between different jurisdictions, hoping to reduce barriers in cross-border trade and enable businesses to use the international digital economy with more confidence and security, said the governments. It aims to develop mutual recognition and interoperability between the respective digital identity regimes.

Lastly, the third agreement focuses on cyber security and acknowledges the common interest between the two countries in addressing the international challenges of protecting the countries’ interests online, including a shared vision of maintaining the economic and social benefits of a free, open, peaceful, and secure cyberspace. The countries will collaborate in areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) security, promote cyber resilience, and capacity building.

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“Singapore has been working with like-minded countries to advance a global digital architecture that is open, inclusive, interoperable, and secure,” said Josephine Teo, Singapore’s minister for Communications and Information and minister-in-charge of Smart Nation and Cybersecurity. “In this regard, I am pleased to sign these MOUs with a digitally-progressive partner like the United Kingdom, to further strengthen the links between Singapore and the UK in digital trade facilitation, digital identities, and cybersecurity.”

The three agreements are set to underpin the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, which is currently being negotiated and targeted for conclusion in the near term, that aims to enhance the trade relationship and boost digital trade for businesses.

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