Rajah & Tann Regional Round-Up
your snapshot of key legal developments in Asia
Issue 3 - Jul/Aug/Sep 2021

Developments in Cross-Border Paperless Trade - Singapore Collaborates with Australia and Trade Partners on Blockchain and Other Trade Initiatives

There have been a number of recent developments in Singapore in the area of cross-border paperless trade.

Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority ("IMDA") and Singapore Customs began a blockchain trial with the Australian Border Force ("ABF") on 23 November 2020 to simplify cross-border trade between Singapore and Australia. The trial, which aimed to prove that trade documents could be issued and verified digitally across two independent systems, was part of an initiative under the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement ("SADEA"). The trial successfully concluded on 18 August 2021.

The trial successfully tested the interoperability of two independent systems – ABF's Intergovernmental Ledger and IMDA's TradeTrust reference implementation – which are digital verification platforms developed with blockchain technology and used to share electronic trade documents. Certificates of Origin, which are typically required by governments to verify the authenticity and provenance of goods, were used as the first test case.

Besides the SADEA, Singapore has entered into the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement with New Zealand and Chile, which came into force on 7 January 2021. In addition, Singapore is currently in negotiations with South Korea to develop the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA), and the United Kingdom to develop the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (UKSDEA). Other more modern, non-digital only free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) also contain provisions and commitments relating to paperless trading under their e-commerce chapters.

On the local front, to facilitate digital economy, the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Act 2021 was amended and came into force on 19 March 2021. Among other matters, it allows the use of digital documentation with international ports and reduces the reliance on hard copy trade documents. Another noteworthy development is the launch of the Singapore Trade Data Exchange (SGTraDex) on 17 July 2021, which is a data infrastructure framework that makes use of a common data highway to facilitate data sharing between supply chain ecosystem partners.

For more information, click here to read our Legal Update.

Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.


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