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UK and Singapore launch digital trade negotiations

This deal could remove barriers to digital trade between the two countries and allow UK exporters to expand into a new market

The UK and Singapore are set to kickstart negotiations on a new digital trade agreement that could remove barriers to trade and enable UK exporters to expand into a new market.

The negotiations will be kicked off today by a video call between International Trade secretary Liz Truss and the Singaporean Minister in charge of Trade Relations Mr S. Iswaran.

The negotiations will focus on securing open digital markets for exporters, ensuring free and trusted cross-border data flows, cutting red tape for UK businesses by promoting digital trading systems such as digital customs and border procedures, upholding consumer rights and protecting businesses’ IP, and working with Singapore to strengthen collective cyber security capabilities.

“The UK will be the first European country to ever negotiate a Digital Economy Agreement, which shows what we can do as a sovereign trading nation,” said Truss. “We are becoming more flexible, more nimble and less defensive in our approach to trade. Our ambition is to make the UK a global hub for services and digital trade, by striking a series of advanced, high-standards agreements with leading nations across the world that drive productivity, jobs, and growth across the UK.”

Commenting on the move, techUK CEO Julian David said: "We are delighted to see the start of the first UK digital-specific trade negotiation with Singapore, a like-minded country with whom we share longstanding business ties. Digital trade is the fastest-growing arm of international trade and getting the rules right will be crucial for our economic recovery.

"A UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement will put the UK firmly in the frontrunners club for digital trade policy and facilitation and techUK stands ready to support an ambitious deal."

The agreement comes as part of the UK government’s strategy to put the country at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements and enhance its status as a global hub for services and digital trade.

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70% of UK services exports, from financial and legal services to music streaming and e-books, were digitally delivered to Singapore in 2019, worth £3.2 billion, according to the UK government.

The UK government also recently announced a £1 billion UK-India trade and investment agreement which included over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK. This saw India-based companies Infosys and HCL Technologies announce in May that they would create over 2,000 new digital jobs in the country.

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