Australia and Singapore are both known as strong innovators in the digital age. Source: Shutterstock

Australia and Singapore are both known as strong innovators in the digital age. Source: Shutterstock

What will the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement involve?

AUSTRALIA and Singapore are always in the news for the digital transformation efforts that its businesses are undertaking, the technology innovations in its academic and corporate labs, and the regulatory initiatives that drive their digital economies.

Earlier this year, Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Lee Hsien Loong decided to forge a partnership with the aim to deepen the bilateral economic relationship, promote greater connectivity and provide ambitious standards for the region’s digital economy.

As a result, Trade Ministers of the two countries Simon Birmingham and Chan Chun Sing recently announced that they’ve agreed on the scope of the partnership.

According to a press release on the subject, the agreement is expected to cover things like digital trade facilitation, e‑invoicing, e-payments, FinTech, digital identity, and artificial intelligence.

Further, given the significance of data privacy and protection, and the need for better cybersecurity measures, the two countries have also agreed to explore the role of data in the digital economy and work together to foster trust, promote a safe online environment and improve personal data protection.

The two countries will also seek to establish modern rules on the regulation of cross-border data flows and localization of computing facilities, and establish benchmarks for improving safety and consumer experiences online.

“With the digital economy of Southeast Asia expected to triple by 2025, this agreement will lay the groundwork for bilateral digital economy cooperation geared towards enabling our companies to tap on this regional growth,” said Singapore’s Chan.

According to Australia’s Birmingham, half of the businesses in Australia are already engaged in the digital economy in some way, and the government expects the number to grow exponentially in the coming months.

The agreement, therefore, aims to deliver practical improvements that lower the costs and increase the efficiency of doing business.

“This agreement will expand the scope of our economic engagement and provide new opportunities for businesses and consumers to benefit from the digital economy, modernizing our economic relationship with Singapore,” said Birmingham.

Australian Trade Minister Birmingham also believes that the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement will bolster the collaboration achieved under the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

There’s no denying that governments across the world are waking up to the reality that the digital economy is growing incredibly fast — the Malaysian government, for example, just announced its budget for 2020 with significant provisions to boost technology adoption and meet the demands of the digital era.

While Australia and Singapore aren’t relying on each other in any way, the agreement might just provide the fillip needed to help the two countries become digital leaders — not just among peers in the region but also in comparison to competitors on the global stage.