Next steps and timeline

Next steps, now that the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement has been signed, as well as details of recent negotiating rounds are below.

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Next steps

The DEPA entered into force for New Zealand and Singapore on 7 January 2021. Our focus now turns to implementation of the Agreement to realise the full potential of DEPA for New Zealand businesses. The SME dialogue is a priority for delivery, intended to involve a range of stakeholders including SMEs, business associations, and civil society. If you are interested in being involved, or have any other enquiries related to DEPA, please contact us at

Ratification process

The DEPA was signed in an entirely online virtual signing ceremony by New Zealand, Chile and Singapore on 12 June 2020 NZT. The Economic Development, Science and Innovation Parliamentary Select Committee considered the DEPA on 2 July 2020. Their report is available here (external link)(external link).

New Zealand and Singapore notified the depository of completion of their applicable legal procedures on 9 October 2020. The DEPA entered into force on 7 January 2021, 90 days after the notification. A timeline of New Zealand’s domestic ratification process is below.

Step 1. Negotiations conclude.

Step 2. Public engagement - Government continues to discuss the outcomes with New Zealanders, online, in writing and face-to-face.

Step 3. National Interest Analysis - Officials produce a report sharing what is in the DEPA and how it affects New Zealanders.

Step 4. Cabinet review - Cabinet reviews the final text and decides if New Zealand will sign the DEPA.

Step 5. Signing - Ministers from all DEPA Parties sign the Agreement.

Step 6. Domestic process to bring DEPA into force for New Zealand ratification - DEPA Parties begin their legal processes to give effect to the Agreement.

Step 7. Select committee examines - Parliament's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee refers DEPA to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee to examine the DEPA and National Interest Analysis and to report on its views and effects.

Step 8. Implementing legislation - Parliament considers legislation (if any) required to implement the DEPA.

Step 9. Entry into Force - New Zealand is ready for the DEPA to enter into force. DEPA entered into force when two parties completed their necessary domestic legal processes necessary to bring DEPA into force.

Timeline of negotiations

The start of negotiations towards a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement was announced(external link) by the Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker, together with Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Roberto Ampuero and Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on 16 May 2019.

This was announced on the side lines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade in Viña del Mar, Chile.

More information about why New Zealand participated in this negotiation is set out in the Briefing to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth.

Negotiators met in July, September, and October 2019.

September Meetings

DEPA negotiators met in Geneva from 22–23 September 2019. Each of the DEPA modules was discussed, with particular focus on how text should be developed in light of existing free trade agreements and other work in the WTO-based e-commerce discussions.

New Zealand proposed text for modules relating to:

  • Digital inclusion and Inclusive Trade
  • Government Procurement
  • Wider Trust Environment (Cybersecurity Cooperation)
  • the Treaty of Waitangi.

The next meeting was scheduled to take place in Geneva from 26-28 October 2019.

October Meetings

DEPA Negotiators met in Geneva between 26-28 October 2019.

During the round, significant progress was made advancing the DEPA text, particularly on 'legal issues'. This includes matters relating to finial provisions (such as accession and entry into force), dispute settlement and exceptions.

New Zealand put forward a further text proposal relating to:

  • Consumer Protection

Negotiators are now discussing next steps for the DEPA.


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