The UK has signed a digital trade deal with Singapore that aims to boost international business expansion and “enhance” the existing Fintech Bridge between the two countries
The UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) is yet to come into effect. It is geared towards increasing trade with Singapore, which in 2020 was worth £16bn.
The agreement aims to update goods and services rules and will improve cross-border data flows to improve financial service cooperation.
Furthermore, the deal will simplify border processes by switching paperwork for electronic records. The UK and Singapore also signed a cybersecurity partnership to build defences that protect businesses.
Post-Brexit, the deal provides a gateway to the Indo-Pacific region and will strengthen the UK’s plan to join Singapore in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Membership would grant the UK access to an £8.4tr free trade area.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, international trade secretary, said: “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 businesses welcome Singapore trade deal
Gerard Grech, founding chief executive of Tech Nation, said that Singapore provides a “great landing pad for UK tech scaleups exploring new business in Asia Pacific”.
He added: “With 60% of our latest Future Fifty cohort looking to enter this region, the UK – Singapore Digital Economy Agreement will further open up opportunities for growth and ease their international expansion.”
Jade Francine, co-founder of buildings operation company WeMaintain, said: “Having now opened an office outside of the European Union, firstly in the UK, and now in Singapore it’s important for us to be able to manage data flows effectively across both territories.
“Thankfully, the agreement will enable interoperable systems for digital payments, secured data flows, and digital identities, and greater cybersecurity collaboration between the UK and Singapore.”
Francine added: “Looking further ahead, the deal also has the potential to cement common practices and cooperation within the digital economy in artificial intelligence, digital identities and RegTech, and I do think this a rare case of the right trade deal at just the right time.”
Jatin Ondhia, founder and CEO of proptech Shojin Property Partners, said: “Singapore’s financial sector and fintech ecosystem are both world-leading and backed by progressive regulators. Combined with increased tensions in Hong Kong, these attributes make Singapore the most attractive gateway to Asia for many UK tech startups.”
Flora Suen-Krujatz, chief legal officer at funding platform SeedLegals, told UKTN that while it’s the first trade agreement in the world to include specific legaltech commitments, this “doesn’t come as a surprise” given the UK and Singapore’s positions as legal service hubs.
SeedLegals launched in Singapore earlier this year to provide legaltech solutions to startups in the APAC region.
Suen-Krujatz added: “This trade agreement is extremely encouraging to today’s technology startups that are innovating in the digital space, for example, fintech, cybersecurity companies.”