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South Korea to sign up for Digital Economic Partnership Agreement

NZ, Singapore, and Chile are other - and smaller - current signatories to pact that's hoped to set regional agendas, so this is a fillip

South Korea has initiated the process of joining the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA), an expanding regional bloc of nations that seek to establish key rules and strengthen cooperation for digital trade.

DEPA was inaugurated in June 2020, when Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile signed up.

The text [PDF] of the agreement uses the usual diplomatic verbosity, but the intention of the agreement is simple: member states agree to recognise each other's digital identity documents, work on fast and paperless exchange of customs documents, adopt interchangeable e-invoicing standards, and agree that FinTech is a good thing that ought not to be blocked as purveyors seek to operate across borders.

Laudable goals, all, but DEPA's original three members are hardly global economic powerhouses.

South Korea, however, is the tenth-ranked nation by gross domestic product (GDP) – well ahead of Singapore (37th), Chile (45th), and New Zealand (49th). Indeed, South Korea's GDP is almost double that of the three current DEPA members combined, according to World Bank Data.

The nation signing up is, therefore, a fillip for the agreement – and for Singapore, which initiated the bloc in the first place. South Korea's announcement of its plan to join DEPA says the agreement "has the potential to serve as an extensive platform for the establishment of a digital cooperation network in the Asia-Pacific region". With the economic heft it brings to the table, South Korea makes that prediction more likely to become reality. ®

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