South Korea’s Inclusion in Digital Economy Partnership Boosts Global Digital Trade Efforts

South Korea has recently joined the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), becoming the fourth member of the alliance. Initiated by Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile, the DEPA aims to set digital trade regulations encompassing digital identities, cross-border data flows, and artificial intelligence.

The addition of South Korea to the agreement has been hailed as a significant milestone, emphasizing collaboration and openness among member countries. The process leading to South Korea’s inclusion began in June 2023, followed by the completion of legal procedures.

Grace Fu, Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, expressed optimism about the future of DEPA, highlighting the importance of upholding its standards and inclusivity to all eligible economies. South Korean Trade Minister Cheong In-kyo affirmed his country’s commitment to expanding DEPA’s reach and bridging existing and new members.

Officials from Chile and New Zealand also welcomed South Korea’s accession, recognizing its expertise in the digital economy domain. DEPA, established in 2020, aims to facilitate digital trade, reduce operational costs, enhance business efficiency, and provide easier access to international markets.

Global interest in the DEPA has grown, with countries like China, Canada, Costa Rica, and the United Arab Emirates in negotiations to join. Experts suggest that agreements like DEPA could shape digital governance rules and norms, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Biden administration is considering joining the DEPA to demonstrate its commitment to the region and address the concerns of Asian allies and partners. China has also shown willingness to collaborate with DEPA members on technical consultations and cooperation in the digital economy sector.

As more countries seek to become members of the DEPA, the pact gains momentum in its efforts to promote digital trade and enhance international business relationships.