New digital trade deal between UK and Singapore explained

Described as the world’s most comprehensive digital agreement, a UK and Singapore trade deal allows for quicker, more trusted access to a lucrative market

The UK has signed a digital deal with Singapore intended to strengthen the UK’s £16bn trading relationship with Singapore and encourage more digital businesses to seize new opportunities.

Described by the British government as the “most innovative trade agreement ever signed” and the first of such a deal by a European nation, the Digital Trade Agreement (DEA) between the two countries follows the UK’s already negotiated ambitious digital provisions in trade agreements with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and supports the UK’s bid to join Trans-Pacific Partnership to build trade connections with 11 Indo-Pacific markets.

“This digital agreement plays to our strengths as a services superpower and will ensure our brilliant businesses can build back better from the pandemic and benefit from easier, quicker and more trusted access to the lucrative Singapore market,” UK International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement.

Benefits of new trade deal for UK business

The deal links two of the world’s most dynamic hi-tech and services hubs and will capitalise on the UK’s strength as the world’s second largest services exporter. One-third of UK exports to Singapore are already digitally delivered, including in finance, advertising and engineering, and this will create new opportunities to expand modern services and help level up the country.

The digital sector alone adds $151bn to the economy and lifts wages, with workers earning around 50% more than the UK average. UK services companies already operating in Singapore are well placed to take advantage of the deal, including financial giants, telecoms firms or software companies.

The deal will also cut red tape for goods exporters, streamlining cumbersome border processes and replacing time-consuming and costly paperwork with e-signatures and e-contracts.

Other benefits of the innovative new trade deal include:

  • Free and trusted cross-border data flows. Data flows are vital for the modern global economy, enabling everything from more efficient manufacturing and supply chains to effective maintenance of jet engines.
  • Binding commitments that ensure individuals and businesses know their data, money and intellectual property are safe.
  • Strengthening the UK and Singapore’s relationship for financial services by ensuring data can flow freely without unjustified barriers and enhanced cooperation for innovative financial services. Financial Services trade between the UK and Singapore was worth £1.7bn in 2020.
  • 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. 

Plans to revitalise Fintech bridge

In addition to signing the DEA, the UK and Singapore have also agreed to revitalise the existing FinTech Bridge, originally established in 2016, a move that will support innovative financial services and strengthen cooperation on emerging technologies.

An enhanced FinTech bridge will help provide extra support for UK and Singaporean firms and investors to expand into each other’s markets, so both countries can capitalise on opportunities in our advanced FinTech sectors.

The UK has already negotiated ambitious digital provisions in its trade agreements with Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and will be pursuing advanced digital chapters in negotiations with Israel, Canada and Mexico this year.

Find out more about the Digital Trade Deal

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