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Singapore and South Korea conclude negotiations on digital economy agreement

This will be Singapore's first digital economy agreement with an Asian country.

02:11 Min
A new digital economy agreement between Singapore and South Korea will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a "trusted and secure" digital environment for businesses and consumers, said Singapore authorities on Wednesday (Dec 15). Clara Lee reports.

SINGAPORE: A new digital economy agreement between Singapore and South Korea will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a "trusted and secure" digital environment for businesses and consumers, said Singapore authorities on Wednesday (Dec 15).

Both countries have concluded negotiations on the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA), said Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in a joint press release.

The agreement will be Singapore’s fourth digital economy agreement, and its first with an Asian country. 

"The agreement will deepen bilateral cooperation in the digital economy between both countries, by establishing forward looking digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems," said MTI, MCI and IMDA.

Singapore's Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng and South Korea’s Minister for Trade Yeo Han-koo jointly announced the conclusion of negotiations at the joint ministerial meeting in Singapore on Wednesday.

Dr Tan said: "(The agreement) will strengthen the digital connectivity between Singapore and the Republic of Korea, and add to our already robust economic ties.

"By aligning standards, enabling trusted data flows and allowing cross border digital transactions to take place more seamlessly, the KSDPA will open up opportunities for our businesses and people in the rapidly growing digital economy."

The KSDPA will prohibit data localisation except for specific purposes, such as regulatory access. This allows businesses to transfer data securely as part of their daily operations and lets firms decide where to store and process their data.

It will also deepen bilateral cooperation in emerging areas such as personal information protection, e-payments and source code protection.

To support the development of safe and secure cross border e-payments between the two countries, South Korea and Singapore will promote "transparent and facilitative rules", adopt internationally accepted standards and promote interoperability between e-payment systems.

Both countries will also adopt or maintain laws and regulations that guard against fraud, "misleading or deceptive conduct that causes harm to consumers" online, said the Singapore authorities.

The agreement will also help to promote jobs and growth for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by encouraging them to participate in platforms that help link them with international suppliers, buyers and other potential business partners. 

South Korea and Singapore will also be able to identify cross-border opportunities to facilitate artificial intelligence innovation and collaborations, said MTI, MCI and IMDA.

The agreement will complement Singapore's efforts to develop multilateral rules to create an environment for e-commerce as co-convenor of the World Trade Organization Joint Statement Initiative on E-commerce, they added.

"Singapore and the Republic of Korea enjoy warm bilateral ties, anchored by strong economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges," said Dr Tan at the joint ministerial meeting.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is the crisis of our generation, but we should not let it stop us from seizing opportunities.

"We must refocus on the future, and I am happy to note that both countries have worked hard to ensure our continued economic recovery and to refit our economies to a world where the pace of digitalisation has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic."

Singapore was South Korea's eighth-largest trade partner in 2020, with bilateral trade reaching S$44.6 billion. As of end-2019, Singapore was South Korea's ninth-largest investor in Asia, with about S$8.37 billion worth of investments recorded in South Korea. 

South Korea was Singapore's sixth-largest source of investments in Asia, with a cumulative direct investment of S$23.7 billion.

The KSDPA is part of a series of digital economy agreements that Singapore has embarked upon. Last week, Singapore and the United Kingdom concluded negotiations on the UK-Singapore digital economy agreement. 

Source: CNA/yb(mi)


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