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South Korea joins world's 1st digital trade pact to boost exchange

June 9, 2023 - 14:19 By Jo He-rim
Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun (second from left) poses with his counterparts from Singapore, Chile and New Zealand in their meeting on South Korea's accession to the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement in Paris on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea has become the fourth country to join the world’s first multilateral digital trade agreement, the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement, to boost its digital content and service exchange, the Trade Ministry said Friday.

Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun met with his counterparts from the three DEPA member states -- Singapore, New Zealand and Chile -- on the sidelines of their Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ministerial council meeting in Paris, to finalize the decision on South Korea's accession, according to the ministry.

The DEPA is a multilateral digital trade agreement signed between Singapore, New Zealand and Chile to establish key rules and strengthen cooperation for digital trade.

“With South Korea’s participation, we anticipate the DEPA to develop into a digital platform covering the extensive Asia-Pacific region,” Ahn said.

“Joining the DEPA at its beginning stage, we seek to lead the discussion on establishing global regulation for digital content trade.”

After DEPA was launched in January 2021, South Korea officially kicked off the process to join the international digital trade agreement in October of the same year.

The DEPA is the second such agreement on digital trade the country has joined. In January, South Korea and Singapore established the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement.

China and Canada are also in the process of joining the international agreement, while several countries in Latin America, including Costa Rica and Peru, as well as a number of Middle Eastern countries are mulling participation.

The Trade Ministry said its goal in taking part in digital trade agreements is to raise the digital competitiveness of Korean industries by converting the Digital New Deal achievements into manufacturing and service industries’ digital transition, while accelerating strategic network building with major countries.

As DEPA is aimed at defining the trade rules for a stable environment for data businesses, it will provide opportunities for South Korean companies to export their digital content and services overseas, the ministry added.

The government said it will complete all the domestic processes needed for the DEPA to take effect within the year.