Singapore, South Korea ink digital economy deal to boost online trade, partnerships

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Consumers and businesses in Singapore and South Korea will benefit from smoother digital activities between both sides in areas such as e-payments and paperless trading, with the signing of a new agreement on Monday.

The Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement is the first digital economy deal concluded between two Asian countries.

It is also Singapore’s fourth such pact with other countries, following similar partnerships with Chile and New Zealand, as well as with Australia and Britain.

Under the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement, both countries will work together to align their digital rules and standards to promote interoperability between systems.

This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for businesses and consumers, said Singapore’s Trade and Industry Ministry.

The agreement, inked in Singapore by Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng and South Korea’s Minister for Trade Ahn Dukgeun, was substantially concluded in December 2021.

It will deepen bilateral cooperation in emerging areas, including personal data protection, e-payments, artificial intelligence and source code protection.

Dr Tan said Singapore and South Korea enjoy warm bilateral ties, anchored by strong trade and investment linkages and exchanges between people.

South Korea is a popular holiday destination for many Singaporeans, and those in the East Asian country are also increasingly familiar with Singapore, for example, through the popular K-drama Little Women that was partly filmed here, said Dr Tan.

Singapore was South Korea’s seventh-largest trade partner in 2021, with merchandise trade amounting to $56.2 billion, up 26 percent from the previous year.

“Our economic cooperation has expanded to many new areas, such as promoting innovation and start-ups, the green economy, and, of course, the digital economy,” Dr Tan said at the signing ceremony on Monday.

Ahn said that Singapore and South Korea share a common experience of rapid economic development built on openness and innovation, and the latest partnership builds on their existing free trade agreement (FTA), one of South Korea’s oldest FTAs.

“The bilateral digital partnership agreement will be a basis for strengthening our close relationship and shaping, together, the rules of digital trade in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

An aspect of the agreement involves both countries accepting electronic versions of trade administration documents. Both parties will also collaborate on initiatives that facilitate the use of data exchange systems for such paperwork.

Among other areas, Singapore and South Korea will also cooperate to promote jobs and growth for small and medium-sized enterprises, and encourage firms’ participation in platforms that connect them with overseas suppliers, buyers and potential business partners.

Both sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on a digital economy dialogue, part of bilateral efforts to develop projects to implement the digital partnership agreement.

The dialogue, which includes forums and roundtables, aims to promote collaboration between industry players and academic experts from both sides.

Singapore and South Korea have also concluded negotiations for two other memoranda of understanding, on artificial intelligence and the electronic exchange of data between Customs administrations, that will be signed later this year.




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