Australian Government | 6 August 2020
Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
On 6 August 2020, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing digitally signed the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). This follows the official conclusion of negotiations by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong on 23 March 2020.
The DEA breaks new ground. It sets new global benchmarks for trade rules, and a range of practical cooperation initiatives, to reduce barriers to digital trade and build an environment in which Australian businesses and consumers are able to participate and benefit from digital trade and the digitalisation of the economy.
The DEA will upgrade the digital trade arrangements between Australia and Singapore under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement – which are already among some of the most ambitious globally. For example, it: delivers more robust rules that ensure businesses, including in the financial sector, can transfer data across borders and will not be required to build or use data storage centres in either jurisdiction; improves protections for source code; establishes new commitments on compatible e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks; and delivers new benchmarks for improving safety and consumer experiences online.
The DEA also delivers a range of new trade rules, and a comprehensive framework for bilateral cooperation, to help businesses and consumers capitalise on the digital economy. Australia and Singapore have negotiated cutting-edge new rules, and signed a series of MoUs on areas including data innovation, artificial intelligence, e‑invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, trade facilitation, personal data protection, and digital identity.
Cooperation under the DEA also includes closer cooperation to support the harmonisation of key standards to support digital trade. This work has already begun with a jointly commissioned study to identify priority opportunities for increased digital standardisation, reporting to Australia and Singapore in mid-2020.
A fact sheet and summary of the key outcomes of the DEA, and the signed MoUs are available on the DFAT website. The DEA delivers in a number of areas identified as a priority in submissions to both the public consultations process that informed the DEA negotiations and in response to the Future of Digital Trade Rules discussion paper.
Singapore is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN. As two vibrant and open economies, we share a vision for improved economic integration between our countries. Australia and Singapore are leading the way in the digital economy and we are eager to continue to work with Singapore to maximise ambition in areas of common interest.
Agreement of the scope of the DEA was announced on 12 October 2019 by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing. Prior to this, a comprehensive scoping study was undertaken by Australian and Singaporean officials at the request of Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong. Negotiating rounds were held from 18-19 February 2020 and 4-6 December 2019.
Next steps and treaty text
The DEA will now undergo Australian treaty-making processes, including tabling in Parliament and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties prior to ratification.
The full text of the DEA is now available here:
Once the DEA enters into force, it will amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement to replace the existing Electronic Commerce chapter with a new Digital Economy chapter, along with other amendments.