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South Korea joins DEPA as first non-founding partner

Pulse | 9 June 2023

South Korea joins DEPA as first non-founding partner

South Korea has officially acceded to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), becoming the first member country outside of its founding partners, Seoul’s Trade Ministry said on Friday.

DEPA, hailed as the world’s first plurilateral digital trade agreement, aims to establish comprehensive rules and foster cooperation among participating nations on critical aspects of digital trade, including cross-border data flows, digital identities and artificial intelligence.

Initially signed by Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, the members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), this pioneering agreement has now expanded its reach with Korea’s inclusion.

On Thursday (local time), Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun engaged with his counterparts from the three founding members during the OECD Ministerial Council meeting in Paris. The talks culminated in substantial progress towards Korea’s accession to the pact, marking a significant milestone for the country. It is Korea’s second digital trade agreement after the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA), which came into effect in January.

Based on the DEPA, it is expected to expand opportunities for Korean companies to increase their e-commerce-based exports and digital content and services overseas, focusing on key countries in ASEAN, Oceania and Latin America. In addition, the scope of DEPA’s benefits is expected to expand as more countries join in the future.

Korea’s application to join the DEPA was set in motion in September 2021. Since then, six rounds of negotiations were held to complete the domestic legal and institutional checks required for accession.

Beyond Korea’s accession, the DEPA has attracted interest from other nations as well. China and Canada have already submitted formal requests to join the agreement.

Korea’s involvement in the DEPA is expected to bolster its digital economic competitiveness and open up new avenues for its global digital trade network.

The Ministry of Trade is now focused on finalizing the necessary domestic procedures and additional requirements to ensure that the DEPA comes into force within this year.

 source: Pulse