South Korea is endeavoring to establish deeper digital trade ties with ASEAN and neighboring nations. The country showed interest in joining the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, a global pact that deals with several digital economy concerns and trade agreements in the region. The official announcement of signing the pact will be out soon by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
“South Korea completed its domestic procedure for accession by reporting to the National Assembly in August and it will express its will to join this month,” Trade Minister Yeo Han-Koo said to the media.
On September 6, the Trade Minister held a virtual meeting with Gan Kim Yong, his Singaporean counterpart. The two discussed several trade concerns and environmental issues along with developmental projects for the region. Further, the parties considered nurture ties to overcome the adverse effects of COVID and Delta Strain through collaborative efforts.
ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. The combined amount of trade between South Korea and ASEAN has reached $92.5 Billion since the first two quarters of the year. According to the ministry data, it is 18% higher than 2020.
The same meeting covered the DEPA proposal and its possible negotiations. At present, Singapore, New Zealand and Chile are members of The Digital Economy Partnership Agreement that came into effect in January 2021. The pact is reportedly the first multilateral agreement covering official digital trade concerns amongst fellow members.
Since the pact will be covering several key topics such as e-payments, data protection, digital identities, and cross-border data flows, it will play a crucial role in the digital economy of South Korea. Moreover, if the country’s bid to become a member gets a go-ahead from the existing members, it will strengthen cooperation for digital trade in the region.
The agreement aims to set diplomatic ties and acknowledge the digital identity of member nations. Additionally, it encourages the adoption of faster and paperless exchange of customs documents and e-invoices for digital trade practices. The document identifies the FinTech approach fitting for the modern trading standards employed across borders.
“Given that the necessity of establishing digital trade rules in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing, more discussions are needed between South Korea, Australia, the United States, Singapore, New Zealand, and so on,” the trade minister said.
Compared to the present DEPA members, South Korea wins the rank table in the economic growth sectors. Consequently, the agreement is expected to be a stimulating change for the members. South Korea views potential in the agreement to transform digital economies and “serve as an extensive platform for the establishment of a digital cooperation network in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to the officials.