In the same week Singapore signed the world’s largest free trade deal, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has signalled his country’s intention to pursue a digital economy agreement with the European Union.
Speaking at the 8th ASEAN-EU Business summit, Chan said a digital economy agreement would be essential in connecting the EU and ASEAN digitally and would help facilitate innovation and investments in new digital industries.
“If the EU wants to sign a digital economy agreement with someone in Asia, Singapore would probably be one of its preferred partners,” Chan said. “The level of development is similar, and the level of interest is similar”.
The idea has been endorsed by the secretary of the ASEAN-EU Business Council, Federico Donato. “I believe that an eventual Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore should set high global standards in digital trade going forward,” said Mr Donato. “Compared to other economic powerhouses, both the EU and Singapore are extremely aligned in envisaging building a global system which thrives on secure cross border data flows”.
The prospect of a digital economy agreement follows comments earlier in the year from the Managing Director of Singapore’s central bank, Ravi Menon. Menon noted that Singapore’s ‘deep connectivity to Asia’ and ‘high degree of digitalisation’ of industry will provide the country with a distinct competitive advantage.
Officials see the digital economy as the next chapter in the success story of the Singaporean economy. As our GENNsight briefing on the Extraordinary Rise of Singapore highlighted, Singapore has effectively configured its factor endowment and industries continually to increase the value of its output. A digital economy is the next iteration.