Australia and Singapore sign landmark Digital Economy Agreement
Media release: Australia and Singapore sign digital trade agreement
Australia and Singapore today signed a landmark Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) to harness digital transformation and technology to expand trade and economic ties in our region. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing signed the DEA digitally via videoconference.
At a time of global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the signing of the DEA demonstrates Australia and Singapore’s recognition of the value of digital trade in forging a path to a post-COVID economic recovery. Digital technology facilitated through the rapidly growing digital economy will be essential to ensuring Australian goods and services can keep moving during this challenging time for Australian business.
The DEA features enhanced digital trade rules that are the most ambitious Australia and Singapore have ever agreed. Australia and Singapore have agreed to set new rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the transfer and location of data, improved protection for software source code, and ensure compatibility between our e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks. Importantly, the DEA will also feature rules for enhanced business and consumer trust in digital trade and cooperation in creating a safe online environment, and protecting personal information and consumer rights. The DEA is further supported by MoUs on data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, e-invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, personal data protection and digital identity.
Singapore is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN and one of the few countries with which Australia has a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP). The digital economy will be an important pillar of the CSP and, through developing digital trade rules and standards that build trust and confidence, Australia and Singapore are setting ambitious benchmarks for others in the region. The DEA is an important part of Australia’s collaborative work with Singapore in this area, as demonstrated in the ongoing WTO e-commerce negotiations, where Australia and Singapore hold leadership positions, and regional fora such as APEC.
The signing today follows the conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020. The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification. When the DEA enters into force it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter.