The LLEP has welcomed agreement of a major international digital trade deal as an opportunity for local firms to expand into one of the most tech-savvy and rapidly expanding markets in Asia. This is the Singapore Digital Trade Deal.
The UK Government announced on Thursday that it has secured an agreement in principle with Singapore for a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) that will cut costs, reduce red tape and pave the way for a new era of trade.
It will also capitalise on the UK’s strengths as the world’s second largest services exporter and a leading digital hub.
Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors, said:
“Leicester and Leicestershire have transformed over the last decade into a local economy led by innovation, technology and the knowledge economy.
“We have numerous examples of businesses which already operate globally and we welcome agreements which provide further opportunities for Leicester and Leicestershire organisations to further lead the way in international growth.”
It is the first digitally-focused trade agreement signed by a European nation and was agreed after six months of negotiations by International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Singapore Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran.
The DEA will take the UK’s trading relationship with Singapore – worth £16 billion in 2020 – forward by overhauling existing trade rules that affect both goods and services exporters.
The Government said this will make it easier for UK business to target new opportunities in both Singapore and lucrative Asian markets, adding that the DEA will be the world’s most comprehensive digital trade agreement.
International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said:
“Digital trade is creating a new global economy, but it is still largely governed by old-fashioned rules that pre-date the digital revolution of the past 20 years.
“We’re using our independent trade policy to strike ground-breaking agreements that update these rules for the digital age and connect UK businesses to the biggest and fastest growing markets in the world.”
A third of UK exports to Singapore are already digitally delivered, including in finance, advertising and engineering, and this deal will create new opportunities to expand digital trade.
Andy Burwell, CBI Director, International, said:
“This deal will help to unlock digital trade and support key industries of the future, driving forward the UK’s global competitiveness, jobs and growth.
“Services will underpin the UK’s economic growth and therefore the UK’s Global Britain ambitions.
“Enabling digital exports in its broadest sense, and importantly the free flow of data, is integral.
“This agreement is only the starting point for what can be achieved through global collaboration on digital.”
Service companies are expected to be the big winners from the agreement, with goods exporters also benefiting from the streamlining of cumbersome border processes.
It means that time-consuming and costly paperwork can be replaced with e-signatures, e-contracts and electronic invoicing.
Singapore is a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region and the DEA will support the UK’s bid to join Singapore and 10 other nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Julian David, CEO, techUK, said:
“Given Singapore’s longstanding status as one of the most innovative countries in digital trade policy, this agreement provides a strong platform for meaningful bilateral cooperation on tech and digital, allowing us to build common approaches to emerging issues.
“This is exciting news for the tech sector and the broader services economy and techUK looks forward to helping bring this agreement to life.”
Membership would mean access to a £8.4 trillion free trade area with further opportunities for UK business.