Today, the EU and Singapore commence negotiations on a digital trade agreement. This proposed agreement is poised to provide legal assurance for comprehensive digital trade and to enhance protections for individuals and companies engaging in digital transactions. 

The commencement of these negotiations underscores the strategic importance of digital trade and the pivotal role that the Southeast Asian region plays in it.

The EU and Singapore already enjoy a longstanding relationship, which was reinforced by the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement established in 2019. These fresh negotiations aim to extend this solid partnership into the digital arena, demonstrating a collective commitment to remaining at the forefront of new digital advancements. 

Both parties are advocating for open digital economies that are competitive, transparent, equitable, and free from unwarranted barriers to international trade.

These negotiations are building on the foundations laid by the cooperation and consensus in the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership and Digital Trade Principles. These were agreed upon earlier this year, with the intention of fostering an ambitious and modern digital trade agreement. 

The agreement is expected to drive societal digital transformation, enable businesses and individuals to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital economy and enhance the existing preferential trade framework.

Digital trade is recognised as an essential component of the digital and green transitions of societies. Emphasis is placed on international collaboration in the digital economy, with the intention of promoting job creation, empowering businesses – particularly micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises – to access new opportunities, meeting online consumer demands, and fostering innovation.

The goal of the digital trade regulations under discussion is to build consumer trust, provide predictability and legal certainty for businesses, and to remove and preclude the emergence of unwarranted barriers to digital trade. All the while, it will ensure that policy development and implementation can continue to address new challenges arising from the digital economy.

As digitally advanced and like-minded trading partners, the EU and Singapore are well-positioned to lead in the establishment of high-standard digital trade rules between their respective regions, thereby setting the bar for global digital standards.

To expedite these pivotal discussions, the EU and Singapore have tasked their respective negotiation teams to promptly proceed with the initial round of negotiations.