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Singapore and Australia agree to enhance financial services data connectivity

Singapore and Australia have agreed to enhance data connectivity in financial services between both countries under the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). The DEA ensures that financial institutions operating in Singapore and Australia are able to transfer information that they generate or hold more seamlessly across borders. The conclusion of negotiations for the DEA was jointly announced by the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Australia.

Under the DEA, Singapore and Australia have also committed to prohibit requirements for data localisation, which the countries say are an unnecessary barrier to trade and can drive up the cost of storing data for all businesses. Both countries will allow financial institutions to choose where their data is stored.

The Australian government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade website says that the DEA sets new global benchmarks for trade rules, and a range of practical cooperation initiatives, to reduce barriers to digital trade and build an environment in which Australian businesses and consumers are able to participate and benefit from digital trade and the digitalisation of the economy.

The DEA will upgrade the digital trade arrangements between Australia and Singapore under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It delivers more robust rules that ensure businesses, including in the financial sector, can transfer data across borders and will not be required to build or use data storage centres in either jurisdiction; improves protections for source code; establishes new commitments on compatible e-invoicing and e-payment frameworks, and; delivers new benchmarks for improving safety and consumer experiences online.

The DEA also delivers a range of new trade rules, and a comprehensive framework for bilateral cooperation, to help businesses and consumers capitalise on the digital economy. Australia and Singapore have signed a series of memorandum of understanding (MoUs) on areas including data innovation, artificial intelligence, e‑invoicing, e-certification for agricultural exports and imports, trade facilitation, personal data protection, and digital identity.

Cooperation under the DEA will additionally include work to support the development of key standards to support digital trade. This work has already begun with a jointly commissioned study to identify priority opportunities for increased digital standardisation, reporting to Australia and Singapore in mid-2020.

“The DEA with Australia is Singapore’s first binding bilateral agreement to facilitate data connectivity in financial services,” commented Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). “It will ensure that financial institutions in Singapore and Australia can move financial data across the two jurisdictions to support their risk and business decisions. MAS will continue to promote the development of international rules for data connectivity in financial services.”


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