NZ Govt deepens digital partnership with South Korea under trade agreement

New Zealand Partnership Digital

New Zealand is set to strengthen cooperation with the Republic of Korea in data-sharing, e-trading, artificial intelligence, fintech development as well as government procurement, with the East Asian nation accepted into the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) alongside Chile and Singapore.

The DEPA is a “plurilateral agreement” supporting digital aspects of New Zealand’s trading relationships, initially signed with Chile and Singapore – as fellow export-dependent countries – in June 2020.

“Digital trade is a key component of New Zealand’s economic recovery from the global impact of Covid-19,” New Zealand trade and growth minister Damien O’Connor said, highlighting opportunities for Kiwi businesses to compete in new markets, through digital means.

This week, O’Connor welcomed South Korea’s formal request to join the DEPA.

“Expanding the DEPA’s membership strengthens the ability of our businesses to take part in the global digital economy and deepens our cooperation on digital trade rules,” O’Connor said in a statement.

Notably, the East Asian nation (New Zealand’s fifth-largest export destination) is the first outside of its three founding members to request entry into the agreement.

For New Zealand, the DEPA is seen as a key means of supporting the country’s Covid-19 trade recovery, providing opportunities to diversify exports and increase resilience in the face of possible economic shocks.

NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) notes that the DEPA’s e-trading measures are focused on supporting high-volume, low-value trade, facilitating smaller packages sold across international borders. For instance, through paperless trading and faster customs procedures.

The agreement’s e-business measures are intended to support the growth and recovery of small and medium enterprises (SME), which comprise 97 per cent of the Kiwi economy; a ‘Digital SME Dialogue’ is held regularly with key SME stakeholders to promote DEPA policy benefits.

The DEPA also requires signatories to cooperate on issues relating to digital inclusion, as well as emerging technologies, spanning digital identities, cybersecurity, privacy, online consumer protection and competition policies.

In particular, the agreement will explore ways to protect and safeguard the cybersecurity of citizens, without unnecessarily preventing cross-border data flows which are “necessary for digital trade”, including proving the legitimacy of a merchant or consumer online.

While DEPA provisions entered into force for New Zealand and Singapore on 7 January this year (following negotiations since September 2019), the focus is now on implementing measures in practice.

New Zealand’s current priority is the delivery of its SME dialogues.

Further information on the DEPA can be viewed here.