The UK govt agreed on Thursday, December 9th to secure an agreement in principle with Singapore for a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) that will cut costs, slash red tape and pave the way for a new era of trade. It is the first digitally-focused trade agreement ever signed by a European nation. This comprehensive digital trade deal was agreed in record time by International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Singapore Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran after just six months of negotiations.
The DEA will take our trading relationship with Singapore – worth £16 billion in 2020 – to the next level by overhauling outdated trade rules that affect both goods and services exporters, making it easier for UK business to target new opportunities in both Singapore and lucrative Asian markets.
This could well be good news for UK based insurance brands and brokers, who can now forge strategic partnerships with Singapore, which is a world class insurtech hub.
A third of our exports to Singapore are already digitally delivered, including in finance, advertising and engineering, and this deal will create new opportunities to expand digital trade. Services companies will be the big winners, from financial and telecoms giants like Standard Chartered or BT Group to software companies like Wales-based Awen Collective.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
“This cutting-edge agreement with Singapore links two of the world’s most dynamic hi-tech hubs and plays to our strengths as pioneers in digital trade. Negotiated in just six months, it is the first digital trade deal ever signed by a European nation and will slash red tape, cut costs and support well-paid jobs across the whole UK.
Digital trade is creating a new global economy, but it is still largely governed by old-fashioned rules that pre-date the digital revolution of the past 20 years. We’re using our independent trade policy to strike ground-breaking agreements that update these rules for the digital age and connect UK businesses to the biggest and fastest growing markets in the world.”
The Singapore DEA will overhaul trade rules, so they are tailored to UK business. Wide-ranging benefits include better data flows, stronger cybersecurity and closer links between two hi-tech and services hubs.
- Data flows are essential for providing services digitally: in 2019, 86% of the UK’s global financial services exports were digitally delivered, as were 84% of our global exports of telecommunications, computer and information services. The deal promotes personal data protection, and locks in free and trusted cross-border data flows, enabling everything from more efficient manufacturing and supply chains to more reliable infrastructure and effective maintenance of jet engines. UK companies will not have to pay for expensive data storage and processing in Singapore to do business there.
- The deal establishes a new partnership with Singapore to build ever-stronger cybersecurity defences against attacks by private operators or hostile states, which are a growing threat to individuals and businesses. Companies like Coventry’s CyberOwl and Caerphilly-based Awen Collective have set up in Singapore and are poised to be at the forefront of protecting critical national infrastructure and businesses against cyber risks, fraud, money laundering, terrorism funding and organised crime.
- The DEA links two of the world’s most dynamic hi-tech and services hubs, opening up a 6,000-mile trade superhighway between the UK and Asia. Building on the success of the UK-Singapore Fintech Bridge, it will enable future growth sectors like fintech and lawtech to benefit from deep cooperation with another advanced economy, cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in these fields.
Julian David, CEO, techUK, said:
We welcome the Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore, which comes at the end of a successful year for UK’s leadership in this space, with UK-Japan CEPA, agreements in principle with Australia and New Zealand, as well as the G7 Digital Trade Principles.
Given Singapore’s longstanding status as one of the most innovative countries in digital trade policy, this agreement provides a strong platform for meaningful bilateral cooperation on tech and digital, allowing us to build common approaches to emerging issues. This is exciting news for the tech sector and the broader services economy and techUK looks forward to helping bring this agreement to life.
Clare Francis, Regional Head, Client Coverage Europe, Standard Chartered, said:
The United Kingdom continues to show its leadership in global trade by becoming the first European country to agree to a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore. A modern digital trade agreement will help facilitate growth in trade for digital services as well as support digital platforms that make global trade in goods faster, more transparent and secure.
Standard Chartered has financed trade between the United Kingdom and Singapore for over 160 years and we continue to see great potential in strengthening this historic and strategic relationship even further through helping businesses trade using digital technology.