Singapore and Australia deepen Their Bilateral Ties with a New Digital Economy Agreement (DEA)
For the longest time in history, Australia and Singapore have continued to enjoy a unique relationship and cooperation. The two countries have had bilateral – defense cooperation signed under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The two countries are natural partners according to former Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott who was also a pro-Singaporean. The bilateral relationships have been expanding by the day since the first signing of a Joint Declaration on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2015.
The CSP pact offers joint development of resources including military training areas and facilities in the two countries. The long term benefit is the establishment of Exercise TRIDENT. The CSP also enables the duo to develop a working relationship embedded in defense science and technology. This outlines the increased need for having and sharing some mutual training and standard operating procedures (SOP’s).
In working together, Singaporeans’ RISTA command team was incorporated into Bravo Company 8/9RAR for purposes of easy planning and delivery of missions. This did not only build strong relationships but it also birthed combined cultural exchanges in various activities including honoring Remembrance Days together.
Singapore and Australia make an odd pairing yet they have shared interests
The two countries can easily be described as a lion and a kangaroo about their location, cultural and political differences as well as their location. However, their diplomatic relations and shared interests have brought them together and with specified cooperation in areas such as security, foreign policy, economics, and defense. Every year, about 6,600 troops are welcomed in Australia for training in Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA).
Applauding these aspects of bilateral relations, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “Our two countries are politically like-minded, strategically aligned and economically complimentary”. Trade envoy Andrew Robb echoed Turnbull’s sentiments citing that long-standing shared interests facilitated their establishment.
The signing of a new pact – The Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement (DEA)
Despite having an already orchestrated relationship, Singapore and Australia are at it again with another agreement; the Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). The pact is targeting the digital world and will apply when setting up international trade rules. Additionally, it will a significant role in benchmarking and creating a framework on which the two countries will cooperate.
Present to witness the signing of the agreements was the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. In a joint statement, the two agreed that it is the high time they became role models of good governance and industrious international cooperation. This will also send a new milestone for the CSP already in operation.
The primary aim of DEA is to provide financial connectivity between the two countries. This will make it possible to transport financial data from Singapore to Australia and the opposite is true. The new move comes at a time when lockdowns and travel bans have been imposed on several nations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Digital ways of interacting are becoming more salient
The Digital Economy Agreement will be very instrumental in the monitoring of digital identities and e-payments. These are some of the primary areas which are governed by earlier mentioned international rules. The rules, on the other hand, address the ever-increasing concerns surrounding emerging technologies.
Nonetheless, DEA will promote interoperability and cross-border data innovation between the two jurisdictions. Standards and ethical rules set up by DEA will inspire the nontoxic use of AI technologies. They’re also the expectation that someday Singaporeans will want to digitalize the opening of bank accounts or visa applications to Australia.
Affirming the need for digital systems, S. Iswaran, the Minister for Communications and Information said, “As we deal with the global COVID-19 situation… New ways of doing business across borders such as e-commerce, cross-border data flows, and even announcing and signing today’s DEA and MOUs ‘digitally’ are not just good to have, but also essential.”
The online meeting of Mr. Lee and Mr. Morrison
Nothing, not even the coronavirus situation would prevent the two leaders from pursuing they are well-intended plans. They quickly jumped into a digital meeting after the cancellation travel plans of Singapore Prime Minister Loong to Australia. According to Morrison, a travel ban would not in any way bring down their business and government engagements. This conviction prompted Morrison to place a video conference call to Lee and the two proceeded with their discussions which culminated in the digital signing of the documents.
The two leaders also agreed on the continued sharing of best practices and measures of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. They will keep markets open as well as supply chains in support of the delivery of essential supplies even as the pandemic continues to become a threatening public health crisis.
The need to establish a stable trading system
No one has the slightest indication of how the virus outbreak will last. To some nations, it may stay longer while in others it will disappear as quickly as it came. The good news is that many countries are now establishing ways of bringing it under control.
But even then the world will have an uphill task to try and recover the economies, which have been hit hard. People have lost jobs and businesses have shut down. Everything is literally under closure. As such Lee and Morrison explain the need to open a global trading system that will bring together nations that this pandemic is over and done with. The system will be a pillar of global economic recovery.
Meanwhile, the duo has also vowed to look into issues concerning sustainability and climate change, which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. They did confirm that the social distance would not affect their partnership. There was a potential of establishing a collaboration into low-emissions solutions and speculations have it that an MOU would be signed later in the year. All said and done, it is clear that the two countries are so keen on supporting each other’s economy, risks, and business decisions.