UK, Singapore Launch Talks on Digital Trade Agreement


The UK and Singapore launched at the end of June negotiations on a new digital trade agreement that could remove barriers to digital trade and enable UK exporters to expand into high-tech markets. 

Thus, the UK becomes the first country in Europe to start negotiations on a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA).

ASEAN member state Singapore and the UK are global leaders in the digital economy, the UK government said in a statement.

As much as 70 percent of UK services exports, including financial and legal services, music streaming, and e-books, were digitally delivered to Singapore in 2019, worth £3.2 billion.

Globally, the UK is one of the world’s biggest exporters of services, with remotely delivered services exports worth £207 billion in 2019 alone.

According to the UK government, a Digital Economy Agreement would create additional opportunities for British businesses to deliver their services through digital trade. Such a deal would help cut red tape and ensure companies can trade more efficiently through digital technology such as electronic transactions, e-signatures, and e-contracts.

The start of Digital Economy Agreement negotiations is part of the UK’s strategy to sign modern free trade agreements and strengthen its status as a global hub for services and digital trade.

The talks with Singapore will focus on securing open digital markets for exporters, ensuring free and trusted cross-border data flows, and cutting red tape for UK businesses by promoting digital trading systems such as digital customs and border procedures that will save time and money when exporting. The negotiations will also seek to deepen UK cooperation in sectors like fintech and lawtech, while working with Singapore to strengthen the collective cybersecurity capabilities.

“A cutting-edge deal with Singapore will keep us at the forefront of the technological revolution, ensuring we lead the way in digitally delivered trade and industries like fintech and cybersecurity. We are already the second largest services exporter in the world, with a huge comparative advantage in this area that we intend to capitalise on,” International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said.