South Korea has started the process of joining the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement (DEPA), a regional bloc of expanding nations that seeks to establish key rules and strengthen cooperation for digital trade.
DEPA was launched in June 2020, when Singapore, New Zealand and Chile signed up.
the text [PDF] The agreement uses the usual diplomatic verbosity, but the intent of the agreement is simple: Member states agree to recognize each other’s digital identity documents, work on the rapid and paperless exchange of customs documents, adopt interchangeable electronic invoicing standards, and agree that FinTech is a good thing that should not be blocked as providers seek to operate across borders.
All the laudable targets, except the original three members of DEPA, are not world economic powers.
However, South Korea is ranked 10th by gross domestic product (GDP), well ahead of Singapore (37th), Chile (45th) and New Zealand (49th). In fact, South Korea’s GDP is nearly double that of the current three DEPA members combined, according to World Bank data.
The nation’s signature is therefore a stimulus for the deal and for Singapore, which started the bloc in the first place. From South Korea ad of his plan to join DEPA he 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 weight it brings, South Korea makes that prediction more likely to come true. ®