Recognising the potential of the digital economy, New Zealand and two of its partners – Chile and Singapore – worked together to develop the DEPA.

This initiative was well-timed given the disruption to international trade and supply chains that COVID-19 has caused.

On 12 June 2020, New Zealand, Chile and Singapore signed the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement virtually. It was New Zealand’s first agreement focused exclusively on the digital economy and the first time New Zealand signed an international treaty using e-signatures.

Virtual signing of DEPA
Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker, with MFAT’s Lead Negotiator, Alison Hamilton, at the virtual signing of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement. Credit: Communications Team, NZTE.

New Zealand played a leading role in the creation of the DEPA. The Agreement will help New Zealand exporters and SMEs to take advantage of the growing opportunities from the digital economy. It will also enable DEPA partners to work together on the issues and impacts of technological advances on economies and trade as they emerge.

The DEPA covers business and trade facilitation measures, such as setting up faster border procedures and supporting e-payments. It promotes online consumer protection and recognises the important role of artificial intelligence and digital identities in our economy. It will help exporters enter global markets, overcome the challenges of scale and distance, and accelerate their growth while fostering consumer trust in the digital environment. The Agreement also promotes digital inclusion and inclusive trade, which aims to ensure all people and businesses benefit from the digital economy.

The DEPA is designed to be a living agreement, which will expand, evolve, and attract new parties over time. It also aims to contribute to the revitalisation of international trade architecture and demonstrate that there continues to be value in looking outward and working together. For example, by bringing some of the novel DEPA provisions into e-commerce and digital discussions in bodies such as the WTO and APEC, the DEPA contributes to global and regional conversations on the digital economy.

Read more about the DEPA.