Singapore plans to sign its third Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Great Britain and South Korea soon.

Singapore plans to sign its third Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with Great Britain and South Korea soon. The DEPA establishes new approaches and collaborations in digital trade issues, promotes interoperability between different regimes, and addresses the unique issues brought about by digitalisation.

This was announced by Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade & Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, at the SCS (Singapore Computer Society) Cloud Conference on February 24, 2022. He urged Singapore-based firms to leverage on DEPAs to grow their businesses and adopt cloud services.

“As the digital world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is critical that we establish common rules and policies to address emerging digital issues and foster interoperability,” Tan said. “Singapore’s DEPAs aim to facilitate seamless end-to-end trade of digital technologies and services such as cloud services, mobile applications and AI. They enable open and trusted flows and use of data and build trust in digital systems so that opportunities arising from the digital economy can be shared by businesses big and small.”

The government has been encouraging companies to move to the cloud. Since 2017, IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital Programme has supported more than 78,000 SMEs starting on their digitalisation journey. That includes providing enterprises with easy access to step-by-step guides on adopting digital solutions qualified cloud-based solutions.

The e-commerce sector in South-East Asia is set to double in size – from U$170 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2021 to U$360 billion in 2025, as per analyst estimates. “There are many opportunities for companies looking to tap on emerging regional value chains,”  Tan added.

Dr Chong Yoke Sin, SCS President, noted that the pandemic had led most enterprises to prioritise digital infrastructure resiliency investments. IDC estimates public cloud services will reach US$124 billion in revenues by 2025 in the Asia-Pacific region, growing at just under 30% annual clip from 2021 to 2025. “Cloud computing has become more prominent due to the pandemic,” she said. “Gartner has forecast worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services to grow 84% in 2022 to US$474 billion, up from US$257.5 billion in 2020. In 2021, the global market for cloud services was worth US$408 billion.”

Dr Anton Ravindran, President of the SCS Cloud Chapter, said that the pace of technological progress and the intense pressure to innovate to be competitive has contributed to the widening skills gap in an unprecedented manner. “This is impacting businesses, with 76% of IT decision-makers facing critical skills gaps globally,” he said. “About 25% of enterprises report they cannot afford to pay the salaries that IT professionals desire. This is a paradox. We need to critically address the skills shortage.”

Raju Chellam, Chairman of Cloud and Data Standards at ITSC (IT Standards Mr Committee) under Enterprise Singapore, urged companies to adopt Singapore-based standards and guidelines to assure consumers of security, privacy and ethics. “The MTCS (Multi-Tier Cloud Security) Standard and the COIR (Cloud Outage Incident Response) guidelines address security and outage issues, two sides of the availability coin,” he said. “The AI E&G (Ethics & Governance) Body of Knowledge, an initiative by the SCS and IMDA focuses on infusing fairness and transparency at every stage of AI development and deployment.”