Singapore and Malaysia signed three agreements on Monday (Jan 30), covering areas that include digital economy and green economy cooperation.
The two countries also inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will enable them to cooperate on issues such as personal data protection as well as cybersecurity, a report by Channel News Asia said. The agreement was between the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) as well as Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Digital.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Anwar witnessed the signing of the agreements at the Istana. The framework of cooperation in digital economy covers areas such as trade facilitation, cross-border data flows and electronic payments.
The framework on green economy cooperation will look into the development of new and renewable energy-related technology standards and explore collaboration on electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles standards, among others.
They were signed between Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The signing of the two frameworks of cooperation, as well as the memorandum of understanding took place as Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim made an official one-day visit to Singapore – his first in his current capacity.
Singapore has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and is currently studying potential CCUS pathways to reduce its carbon emissions. Malaysia’s previous administration said the country aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 at the earliest and pledged to overhaul its energy, transportation as well as land use sectors.
CCUS can reduce emissions by capturing and converting carbon dioxide in power plants and industrial emissions of power plants into useful products like building materials and reclamation sand.
Digital economy push
The digital economy agreement will help unlock growth opportunities and benefit both countries’ businesses, workers and communities, MTI said, adding that it will go beyond what is in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Singapore and Malaysia are both signatories to those existing agreements. MTI on Monday said the new digital economy agreement could serve as a “pathfinder” for digital economy cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The agreement will support the development of efficient, safe and secure cross-border e-payments systems, working towards an ASEAN network of linked, real-time payment systems.
Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow e-payment systems are currently being linked, allowing customers of participating financial institutions to make real-time funds transfers between the two countries using mobile numbers.
The agreement will also help both countries develop and interoperate their respective digital identity regimes for both people and businesses, and covers efforts to support the development of an ASEAN Unique Business Identification Number (UBIN).
This includes a possible bilateral pilot on corporate digital identities, as a proof-of-concept for the UBIN system, MTI said.
The countries will also collaborate in mutually beneficial programmes that facilitate investments in digitalisation, including in partnership with private sector stakeholders.
Personal data protection
The MOU on personal data protection, cybersecurity and digital economy will allow knowledge sharing in areas like data protection policies and cross-border data flows, Singapore’s MCI said on Monday.
It will also address “common cybersecurity threats and emerging technologies” like artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technology, MCI said.
The latter refers to the blockchain, or a type of database that is decentralised in nature, eliminating the need for an intermediary to process, validate or authenticate transactions.
In a statement issued on Monday, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that the signing of the three agreements “will deepen the cooperation between Singapore and Malaysia in harnessing technology to improve the lives of our two peoples”.
The two countries will also exchange information on the development of new and renewable energy-related technology standards.
This could support regional decarbonisation, including the possibility of developing common policies and standards for new and renewable energy technologies, MTI said.