UK and Singapore outline the content of digital economy agreement

The UK and Singapore have reached an Agreement in Principle (AiP) on the content of a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) between the two countries. The agreement aims to cut red tape by, for example, digitising trade administration documents, as well as promoting mutual recognition of digital signatures and interoperability between single windows. It will also tackle the issue of data. Both countries commit to banning unjustified restrictions on the cross-border flow of data and avoid introducing unjustified data localisation requirements. The UK and Singapore agreed to introduce laws and regulations on consumer protection, to ban misleading, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair commercial practices, and spam. The agreement will also include norms on the protection of intellectual property, and to prevent forced access to the source code of computer programs and algorithms. Three separate memoranda of understanding (MoUs) will support the goals of the digital economy agreement. They will be dedicated to digital trade facilitation, digital identities and cybersecurity.

The AiP outlined by both governments discusses the parameters of the deal, and sets out the terms on which the expected agreement is to take place. The AiP does not create any legally binding obligations at this time, but work and negotiations are now ongoing to finalise the legal text of the agreement. Last November, the UK’s Board of Trade published a report strongly advocating for the conclusion of the Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore, not only to create opportunities for British businesses, but also to demonstrate the potential for digital trade rules to others in the World Trade Organization.