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UK, Singapore to kick-start negotiations on digital trade agreement

International trade. Photo: gov.uk

London, June 28 (MNN) The UK and Singapore will on Monday launch negotiations on a new ambitious digital trade agreement that could remove barriers to digital trade and enable UK exporters to expand into high-tech markets.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Singaporean Minister in charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran will meet by video call to kick-start the negotiations, the UK Department for International Trade said.

The UK is the first European country to start negotiations on a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA).

Singapore and the UK are both global leaders in the digital economy and 70 per cent of UK services exports, from financial and legal services to music streaming and e-books, were digitally delivered to Singapore in 2019, worth 3.2 billion pounds.

The DEA would open further opportunities for British businesses to deliver their services through digital trade. It 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 move is part of the government’s strategy to place the UK at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with dynamic countries, and to enhance our status as a global hub for services and digital trade.

Negotiations will focus on:

• Securing open digital markets for exporters, allowing them to expand into new markets and sell traditional products in new ways.

• Ensuring free and trusted cross-border data flows, while upholding high standards of personal data protection.

• 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.

• Upholding consumer rights and protecting businesses’ valuable intellectual property like source code and cryptography.

• Deepening our cooperation on future growth sectors like fintech and lawtech, while working with Singapore to strengthen our collective cybersecurity capabilities and keep our countries safe.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “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.

“The UK will be the first European country to ever negotiate a Digital Economy Agreement, which shows what we can do as a sovereign trading nation. We are becoming more flexible, more nimble and less defensive in our approach to trade.

“Our ambition is to make the UK a global hub for services and digital trade, by striking a series of advanced, high-standards agreements with leading nations across the world that drive productivity, jobs, and growth across the UK.”

The UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement is an important opportunity for the UK to step to the forefront in developing new trade rules that enable the growth of digital trade and promote trust. It will also serve as a strategic platform to help UK companies looking to expand their presence into the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.

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

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