Singapore, Australia to Collaborate on Digital Economy Initiatives

Singapore and Australia have wrapped up negotiations on a digital economy pact that will see both nations collaborate on multiple fronts.By Eileen Yu, ZDNet
March 23, 2020

Singapore and Australia have wrapped up negotiations on a digital economy pact that will see both nations collaborate on multiple fronts, including artificial intelligence (AI), cross-border data flow, and e-payments. The trade agreement aims to provide a framework to facilitate “deeper cooperation” to “shape” international rules and establish interoperability between digital systems.

Discussions on the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) had kicked off last October and culminated over video conferencing Monday when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong agreed to expand bilateral ties across several areas.

Several agreements were inked as part of the negotiations, including plans to share best practices on AI technologies and support the commercialisation of such applications as well as push the adoption of ethical governance frameworks on the use of AI.

Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Australia's Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) also would support cross-border data-sharing projects and better enable businesses to access data for better insights and develop innovative products and and services.

In addition, IMDA would work with the Australian Taxation Office to facilitate exchanges and data-sharing in relation to the electronic transmission of business documents, including e-invoicing. Both government agencies would promote e-invoicing standards and drive such transactions between businesses in the two countries.

The two countries also would support the development of “safe and secure” cross-border e-payments, with promises to drive “transparent and facilitative rules” such as pushing the adoption of open APIs (application programming interfaces) and accepted standards such as the ISO20022.

Furthermore, plans were underway for a pilot programme to establish the exchange of e-certificates for agricultural products, including meat, plant, dairy, and seafood, as well as live animals and inedible products such as animal feed, wool, and skins for import-export activities between the two countries.

The aim here was to make it easier for companies to submit paperless certifications, via paperless documents, for import and export of products and digitise administrative procedures involved in such activities.

The DEA also encompass pledges from both nations to ensure the “expeditious and efficient installation, maintenance, and repair” of submarine cable systems in each territory to maintain robust telecommunications connectivity.  national, regional and global telecommunications connectivity.

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