Singapore urges G20 to improve cross-border trade through digitalization

Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, during a session on digital transformation at the G20 Bali Summit November 16, said the pandemic has accelerated digitalization in many countries and it is a driver for future growth and for the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. He added there are many opportunities for win-win international cooperation.

Lee suggested three areas: “First, to improve interoperability of cross-border rules, standards, data frameworks and policies to facilitate the ease of doing business. Singapore has entered into new Digital Economy Agreements with Australia, the ROK and the United Kingdom. 

“We hope to expand this network over time. We are also working with Indonesia, as the next ASEAN Chair, to advance the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement to deepen digital integration and connectivity in Southeast Asia.

“Second, to use digital innovations to boost trade, enhance financial inclusion and improve service delivery. With Bank Indonesia’s leadership and partnership of the BIS (Bank for International Settlements) Innovation Hub, the ASEAN-5 will press ahead to link our real-time payment systems to boost cross-border payments and trade. Such multilateral payments connectivity can be scaled up later to other jurisdictions or regions.

“We look forward to learning from others who have also promoted the development of foundational digital infrastructure globally (such as the India Stack) to improve public service delivery to those who are most in need. Domestically, Singapore will start a trial using a purpose-bound digital Singapore dollar that can, inter alia, help the government disburse and track the utilization of fiscal transfers.

“Thirdly, we should develop consistent international regulation for digital assets. Digital assets have significant economic potential. They improve efficiency and liquidity by enabling high value assets to be traded, cleared and settled instantaneously among participants, directly. 

“Such technologies can transform cross-border trade and settlement as well as capital market activities. However, as digital innovations proliferate and become more interconnected with financial markets, they can potentially create risks to financial stability. Therefore, the G20 should work with relevant standard-setting bodies to develop international regulations to address these risks, in line with the principle of “same activity, same risk, same regulation”.”

Singapore, although not a member of G20, attends the Summit November 14 to 16 at the invitation of Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, in Indonesia’s capacity as the 2022 G20 Presidency.

Photo credit: G20 Indonesia Media Center

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