Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
On 23 March 2020, Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong announced the conclusion of negotiations for the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). Prime Ministers also witnessed the signing of two cooperation Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on Data Innovation and Artificial Intelligence – part of a suite of seven MoUs under the Digital Economy Agreement enabling enhanced cooperation on emerging technologies and shared challenges.
The DEA breaks new ground. It sets new global benchmarks for trade rules, and a range of practical cooperation initiatives, to reduce barriers to digital trade and build an environment in which Australian businesses and consumers are able to participate and benefit from digital trade and the digitalisation of the economy.
The DEA will upgrade the digital trade arrangements between Australia and Singapore under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement – which are already among some of the most ambitious globally. For example, it: delivers more robust rules that ensure businesses, including in the financial sector, can transfer data across borders and will not be required to build or use data storage centres in either jurisdiction; improves protections for source code; establishes new commitments on compatible e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks, and; delivers new benchmarks for improving safety and consumer experiences online.
The DEA also delivers a range of new trade rules, and a comprehensive framework for bilateral cooperation, to help businesses and consumers capitalise on the digital economy. Australia and Singapore have negotiated cutting-edge new rules, and signed a series of MoUs on areas including data innovation, artificial intelligence, e‑invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, trade facilitation, personal data protection, and digital identity.
Cooperation under the DEA will additionally include work to support the development of key standards to support digital trade. This work has already begun with a jointly commissioned study to identify priority opportunities for increased digital standardisation, reporting to Australia and Singapore in mid-2020.
A fact sheet and summary of the key outcomes of the DEA, and the signed MoUs are available on the DFAT website. The DEA delivers in a number of areas identified as a priority in submissions to both the public consultations process that informed the DEA negotiations and in response to the Future of Digital Trade Rules discussion paper.
Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN. As two vibrant and open economies, we share a vision for improved economic integration between our countries. Australia and Singapore are leading the way in the digital economy and we are eager to continue to work with Singapore to maximise ambition in areas of common interest.
The announcement follows agreement of the scope of the DEA on 12 October 2019 by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, and Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing. Prior to this, a comprehensive scoping study was undertaken by Australian and Singaporean officials at the request of Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong. Negotiating rounds were held from 18-19 February 2020 and 4-6 December 2019.
The DEA text will undergo further legal review by both Australia and Singapore prior to signature and publication, followed by treaty ratification processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
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- DEA: fact sheet
- DEA: summary of key outcomes
- MoUs signed in connection with the DEA
- Joint statement by the Prime Ministers of Australia and Singapore – 23 March 2020
- Media release: Australia and Singapore enhance digital trade ties – 23 March 2020
- Joint media release: Australia and Singapore scope landmark digital economy agreement – 13 October 2019
- Submissions on the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
- Digital trade & the digital economy
- Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement
MOUs signed in connection with the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
MoU on Data Innovation
The Australian Government and the Government of the Republic of Singapore will cooperate on joint projects using combined cross-border datasets to produce new insights, demonstrating the value of sharing trusted, anonymised data across borders.
MoU on Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence
The Australian Government and the Government of the Republic of Singapore will cooperate on Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, including new AI technologies, talent development and ethical standards to support the positive commercial application of AI in the digital economy.
MoU on Trade Facilitation
The Australian Border Force, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Singapore Customs will establish a cooperative relationship to develop compatible paperless trading systems for goods traded between Australia and Singapore.
MoU on Cooperation for Electronic Invoicing
The Australian Taxation Office and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore will cooperate to expand e-invoicing interoperability in the region, based on the Peppol international framework. This MoU will make it easier for Australian small business to send and receive invoices between Australian and Singaporean businesses and with other businesses in the region.
MoU on Electronic Certification Cooperation
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Singapore Food Agency and National Parks Board of Singapore will cooperate on electronic certification of agricultural goods trade, a significant Australian export to and through Singapore.
MoU on Cooperation in Personal Data Protection
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore share a common mission to protect personal information and uphold individuals’ privacy rights as data flows across borders. This MoU sets out the intentions of both organisations to cooperate through sharing experience, expertise, intelligence and information on best practice in relation to the protection of personal information.
MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Digital Identity
The Digital Transformation Agency and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office will cooperate to develop policy frameworks to support mutual recognition of digital identity systems, which can support more efficient government interactions by businesses operating across borders.