Singapore, France ink digital economy agreement that encompasses green tech

Bilateral partnership between the two countries aims to cover various digital and green initiatives, including financial innovation, smart transport, cybersecurity, carbon trading, and artificial intelligence.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore and France have inked an agreement to collaborate across various digital and green economy areas, including smart transport, financial services, and medical technology (medtech). The two nations will establish a "detailed workplan" outlining projects with "clear and tangible outcomes". 

Organisations from both sides also would receive financial support to co-develop commercial products and services, according to a joint ministerial statement released Monday. This funding would come under the France-Singapore Joint Innovation Call, which was led by Enterprise Singapore and Bpifrance.

The France-Singapore Digital and Green Partnership would provide a "structured" platform for the two countries to cooperate in projects across a range of digital and green issues. These, along with the targeted outcomes, would be outlined in the workplan and comprise sectors such as smart transport, smart cities, financial innovation, and education technology. 

The goal here was to facilitate collaboration between private and public organisations that tapped digital and green technologies to drive the competitiveness of both economies, in a sustainable way. 

The two countries would establish a joint working group, with representatives from each country, to oversee implementation of initiatives under the digital and green partnership.  

These would look to address issues such as personal data protection, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), carbon trading, and services, and low-carbon energy products and services. 

"We will boost our companies and industries' competitiveness and invest in technologies to maintain France and Singapore amongst the most competitive and innovative countries," the two countries said. They added that efforts under the bilateral agreement would further contribute to other multilateral and regional discussions, as well as function as a "pathfinder" for cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia. 

Singapore also established a Global Innovation Alliance Acceleration programme in Paris to support Singapore-based startups and small and midsize businesses, while France established La French Tech Singapore, offering a hub for French tech entrepreneurs based in the Asian market. 

There currently are more than 2,500 French business and 300 French startups in Singapore. Another 200 French researchers are in the city-state as part of the French Lab Singapore network.

"Both France and Singapore...recognise the growing role of digital technologies to empower individuals, transform industries, and enhance the competitiveness of our economies. At the same time, we recognise the importance of green technologies in enabling sustainable growth for our societies, businesses, and workers," the two countries said. 

They added that France was a key European and global player in the fight against climate change as well as in digital innovation. The country's €100 billion recovery strategy, France Relance, also supported green recovery and job creation. 

Singapore, too, had led several digital economy agreements and taken steps to combat the climate crisis, pledging to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century and raising its carbon tax.

The new agreement would build on existing partnerships between the two nations, including the France-Singapore Joint Declaration of Innovation signed in March 2017 and the 2018 France-Singapore Year of Innovation.

Singapore's Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran said: "The France-Singapore Digital and Green Partnership is part of Singapore's larger strategy to build a network of international partnerships that enable our companies, especially SMBs, to seize growth opportunities in the fast-growing digital and green economies. 

"At the strategic level, the partnership will contribute to and complement existing multilateral, regional, and bilateral discussions, including ongoing efforts with the EU to develop the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership," Iswaran said.

France currently is Singapore's second and fourth largest EU trading partner in goods and services, respectively. France also is the Asian nation's fifth largest EU investor. Singapore is France's top trade and investment partner in Asean. 


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