- The International Trade Secretary lands in Singapore to sign a groundbreaking digital trade deal and boost trade ties.
- The new Digital Economy Agreement will cut costs, cut red tape and usher in a new era of modern commerce.
- A far-reaching deal will set the standard for modern trading rules, helping the UK build back better after the Covid pandemic.
The International Trade Secretary today joined her counterpart in Singapore to sign a trade agreement that will help businesses seize new opportunities and establish the ground rules for modern global trade.
Secretary of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan signed the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) alongside Singapore’s Minister for Trade, S. Iswaran, on the last day of her tour of Singapore. Asia-Pacific, after visits to Indonesia and Japan.
The DEA is the most innovative trade agreement ever signed and the first by a European nation. It will strengthen our trade relationship with Singapore – worth £16bn in 2020 – by ending outdated rules that affect both exporters of goods and services, making it easier for UK businesses to target new opportunities both in Singapore and in the wider region.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
This digital deal leverages our strengths as a services superpower and will ensure our brilliant businesses can rebuild better after the pandemic and enjoy easier, faster and more reliable access to the lucrative Singapore market.
We are using our independent trade policy to secure these groundbreaking deals which are creating highly skilled, well-paid jobs across the UK – ushering in a new era of modern trade.
The deal links two of the world’s fastest growing high-tech and service centers and will capitalize on the UK’s strength as the world’s second largest exporter of services. A third of our exports to Singapore are already delivered digitally, including in finance, advertising and engineering, and this deal will create new opportunities to expand modern services and help improve the country.
The digital sector alone adds £151bn to the economy and boosts wages, with workers earning around 50% more than the UK average. British service companies already present in Singapore are well placed to take advantage of the agreement, including financial giants, telecommunications companies or software publishers.
The agreement will also cut red tape for exporters of goods, streamlining cumbersome border processes and replacing time-consuming and costly paperwork with electronic signatures and contracts.
Other benefits include:
Free and reliable cross-border data flows. Data streams are vital to the modern global economy, enabling everything from more efficient manufacturing and supply chains to efficient maintenance of jet engines.
Binding commitments that ensure people and businesses know their data, money and intellectual property are safe.
Strengthen the UK-Singapore financial services relationship by ensuring the free flow of data without undue barriers and strengthening cooperation for innovative financial services. Trade in financial services between the UK and Singapore was worth £1.7 billion in 2020.
A new partnership with Singapore to build ever stronger cybersecurity defenses against attacks from private operators or hostile states, which increasingly threaten individuals and businesses.
Singapore is a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region and the DEA will support our bid to join Singapore and 10 other nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Membership would mean access to an £8.4 trillion free trade area with vast opportunities for UK businesses.
UK-based tech unicorns are being created at the rate of nearly one a week, and more may now follow in the footsteps of UK companies already thriving in Singapore.
In addition to signing the Digital Economy Agreement, the UK and Singapore have also agreed to revitalize the existing FinTech Bridge, an initiative that will support innovative financial services and strengthen cooperation on emerging technologies.
An enhanced FinTech Bridge will help provide additional support to UK and Singaporean businesses and investors growing in each other’s markets, so that both countries can take advantage of opportunities in our advanced FinTech sectors.
Ministers also held the first Trade Committee meeting for the UK-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, where they agreed to deepen cooperation on the green economy, including working together to support the zero transition net in the wider Indo-Pacific region, and to strengthen the important bilateral investment relationship between the two countries.
Discussions will begin this year to explore opportunities to deepen our investment protection obligations with formal discussions expected to begin next year.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said:
The signing of the UK-Singapore DEA signifies the importance of innovative financial services trade between our two global financial centers and sets a new standard of cooperation through our commitment to revitalizing the existing UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge, providing a opportunity to strengthen support for businesses and deepen exchanges between our markets.
The agreements announced today build on the groundbreaking digital trade principles agreed by G7 countries under the UK Presidency and are the UK’s latest achievement as a pioneer in digital trade.
The UK has already negotiated ambitious digital provisions in its trade deals with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and will pursue advanced digital chapters in negotiations with Israel, Canada and Mexico this year.