The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation and added urgency for governments and businesses to respond. A key challenge is how to govern and harness the surge in digital data for the global good. 

 

In this programme, EuroCham will highlight the multidimensional aspect of data, and how the use of IoT has implications not just for trade and economic development, but also for human rights, peace and security. It also has an angle on how frontier technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence can empower digital transformation. Furthermore, it also explores how the handling of data may greatly affect our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Digitalisation has and will continue to transform business models and trade. This has opened up unparalleled opportunities and choices for businesses and consumers. In December 2021, the EU and Singapore agreed to strengthen bilateral partnership on digital trade with a view to advance towards a comprehensive EU-Singapore digital partnership. The members of the EuroCham Digital Economy Committee are mindful of the importance of identifying the relevant digital trade elements for such an agreement.

The programme comprises a series of activities covering four main areas of focus:

Four Focus Pillars

Data-Driven Economy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data are two main driving forces behind a variety of technological innovations that have shaped today’s digital environment and Industry 4.0.

This pillar covers:

  • purpose and best practices of Data Governance
  • relationship between AI and Big Data
  • relationship and importance of linking operational data with experiential data
  • how AI supported by Big Data aim at the following objectives: Reasoning, Machine learning, General intelligence, Robotics, Computer Vision, Programming
  • AI contributing to workforce development and sustainability

 

Hyperconnectivity

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. 

The amount of IoT devices worldwide now numbers in the billions. That is why IoT security is one of the major cybersecurity challenges today. 

The connectivity challenges include:

  • IT/OT integration
  • Edge-cloud integration
  • On-premise vs cloud
  • How to deal with old, resource constrained hardware in a brownfield scenario

 

Digital Talent Gap

Nearly all organizations would agree that digital talent is important and that they are aware of the digital talent gap.

According to McKinsey (2020), nearly 90% of executives across the world are facing digital skills gaps in their workforce. This is a particular challenge for the ASEAN region, where a majority of workforce is employed by SMEs. 

Singapore, seen as the emerging tech powerhouse of the SEA region, is facing a severe tech talent shortage across all verticals. Aside from promoting upskilling of citizens (SkillsFuture), one other way the government has addressed this longstanding issue is to make the island nation more attractive to skilled foreign talent. But are these efforts enough to fill the gaps?

Digital for Sustainability

Digital sustainability is the use of technologies in everyday business applications to improve the environment. Businesses adopting digital sustainability as a goal can use digital processes, tools, and forecasting models to measure potential gains against the impact that their success might have on the environment. 

This pillar covers:

  • the effect of digital process of businesses on environmental sustainability
  • sustainability metrics embedded into business process metrics
  • digital sustainability strategies that account for customer and environmental needs alike
  • automated compliance to ESG reporting requirements

Three Activity Pillars

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Sharing Sessions and Panel Discussions

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Digital Economy Whitebook 2023-2024 and Survey Reports

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Closed-Door Sessions

EuroCham Business Forum and Networking on the margins of the Digital Partnership Between EU & Singapore

1st February 2023– EuroCham Singapore organised a business and networking forum amid the signing of the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership (EUSDP) by Singapore Minister for Trade Relations S. Iswaran, and Mr Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market. The forum facilitated meaningful discussions between European businesses, the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Technology and Communications, Directorate-General for Trade, and the Singapore Ministry for Trade and Industry.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore-EU bilateral trade has grown by 10%, and is worth €100 billion,” said Mr Iswaran of the strong economic partnership between the EU and Singapore. Ms Renate Nikolay, Deputy Director-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology, also reaffirmed the EU’s strong business and investment relationship with Singapore.

According to Ms Nikolay, digital economic transformation is a “key political priority” of both the EU and Singapore. “The EUSDP therefore serves as an additional layer (to the current EU-Singapore FTA) by prioritising digital transformation of the EU and Singapore economies,” she explained.

“We want to give special attention to SMEs as we need the backbone of our economies to go digital,” explained Ms Nikolay. Subsequently, the EUSDP is largely geared towards the digital transformation of SMEs in Europe and Singapore. It encourages the adoption of e-invoicing, fintech, digital IDs and artificial intelligence, among other emergent digital strategies for growth. 

Meanwhile, Mr Iswaran praised the EUSDP for its comprehensive and flexible approach to digitalisation of the EU and Singapore economies. But he cautioned that it was not yet possible to draw up a legally binding agreement for digital economic transformation. “We shouldn’t call judgment or arrive at a conclusion too quickly on fast-evolving digital issues, such as on Artificial Intelligence.”

While the EUSDP is a non-binding agreement, there are mechanisms in place to encourage concrete deliverables. The signing of the EUSDP oversaw the creation of Digital Trade Principles. They function as a set of standards for businesses and governments to adhere to. The EU-Singapore Digital Partnership Council was also set up in tandem with the signing of the EUSDP. The body is responsible for monitoring the progress of governments and businesses in delivering these expectations. The EU-Singapore Digital Partnership Council will then monitor the implementation of these principles and further adjust them to society’s changing needs.

“This will allow us to work together on common standards and governance issues around digital transformation,” explained Ms Nikolay.“We want to make sure that nobody gets left behind in the transformation to a digital economy. That’s why we need to build digital skills for everybody,” added Ms Nikolay. She affirmed the commitment of Singapore and the EU to digital upskilling of its peoples amid economic digitalisation.

Overall, EuroCham Singapore was pleased to welcome the EUSDP as the first step towards a binding digital trade agreement between Singapore and the EU in the foreseeable future.

 

Participating Members