Singapore in Talks for Digital Trade Agreement with European Free Trade Association

March 2023

Singapore and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have launched negotiations on an EFTA-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). EFTA and Singapore share strong trade and investment relations underpinned by the 2003 EFTA-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. The DEA will allow Singapore and EFTA to advance cooperation in the digital domain, including advancing end-to-end trade, enabling trusted data flows, and facilitating a trusted and secure digital environment.  The DEA will also build on and complement ongoing plurilateral efforts, including negotiations on the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce.

With Singapore and the EFTA States being digitally progressive partners, the DEA is expected to unlock new opportunities in the digital realm for individuals and businesses. It will also establish coherent rules and clear and secure frameworks to promote more seamless cross-border digital trade, connectivity, and data flows between the EFTA and Singapore.

As digitalization and technological disruptions reshape consumer behavior and business models, cross-border data flows have become crucial for economic growth and consumer protection. To address these challenges, Singapore has been signing digital agreements with various countries, aiming to provide secure and seamless cross-border data flows while reducing operating costs, increasing efficiency, and enhancing access to overseas markets for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. The digital agreements also address regulatory fragmentation concerning data protection, which has led to increased compliance costs and varied restrictions on personal information transfer.

(Sources: MITI; IMDA; The Straits Times)

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