The UK and Singapore are set to kickstart negotiations on a new digital trade agreement that could remove barriers to trade and enable UK exporters to expand into a new market.
The negotiations will be kicked off today by a video call between International Trade secretary Liz Truss and the Singaporean Minister in charge of Trade Relations Mr S. Iswaran.
The negotiations will focus on securing open digital markets for exporters, ensuring free and trusted cross-border data flows, cutting red tape for UK businesses by promoting digital trading systems such as digital customs and border procedures, upholding consumer rights and protecting businesses’ IP, and working with Singapore to strengthen collective cyber security capabilities.
“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,” said Truss. “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.”
Commenting on the move, techUK CEO Julian David said: "We are delighted to see the start of the first UK digital-specific trade negotiation with Singapore, a like-minded country with whom we share longstanding business ties. Digital trade is the fastest-growing arm of international trade and getting the rules right will be crucial for our economic recovery.
"A UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement will put the UK firmly in the frontrunners club for digital trade policy and facilitation and techUK stands ready to support an ambitious deal."
The agreement comes as part of the UK government’s strategy to put the country at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements and enhance its status as a global hub for services and digital trade.
Business in the new economy landscape
How we coped with 2020 and looking ahead to a brighter 2021
70% 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, according to the UK government.
The UK government also recently announced a £1 billion UK-India trade and investment agreement which included over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK. This saw India-based companies Infosys and HCL Technologies announce in May that they would create over 2,000 new digital jobs in the country.
Get the ITPro. daily newsletter
Receive our latest news, industry updates, featured resources and more. Sign up today to receive our FREE report on AI cyber crime & security - newly updated for 2023.
Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.