The two countries commit to a continuous exchange of ideas and experiences in digital and emerging tech areas
Austria and Singapore just joined in a pact to cooperate in digital area to exchange information and technology, especially ideas and know-how on digital economy, digital government, e-commerce, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Both countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday, October 17, during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Vienna, as reported by The Straits Times.
The official signing was done by Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran and Austria’s Federal Minister of Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schrambock, witnessed by both PM Lee and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
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“Both countries are small countries that rely on human talent, both also have a common aim of cultivating a culture of innovation and productivity, and using technology to upgrade our economies and improve our peoples’ lives. Singapore and Austria share similar perspectives on many issues – embracing openness to free trade, to multilateralism, to the rule of law,” said PM Lee said at a press conference with Chancellor Kurz after wrapping up their third meeting this year.
The agreement will focus on the exchange of information and best practices in four areas:
- Digital economy and digitalisation strategies, including helping small and medium enterprises and promising start-ups;
- Digital government, including digital national identities and Smart Nation applications;
- Electronic commerce and digital trade; and
- Emerging technologies, including novel applications of blockchain, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and regulatory approaches.
PM Lee noted there are 220 Austrian companies in Singapore, with investments of over S$2 billion (US$1.5 million), and will open its door as a gateway to Asia for more Austrian firms.
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“We are both small countries in size, but innovative and economically successful,” adedd Chancellor Kurz, while at the same time highlighting Austria as a good gateway to southern and eastern Europe.
Chancellor Kurz agreed that climate change and cyber security are two areas in which Asia and Europe could work closely. Tie-ups in research and development and between universities were also areas both sides are keen to pursue.
Furthermore, Singapore’s role as the presiding ASEAN and coordinator for ASEAN-EU relations makes the partnership is a strategic one with Austria being the current EU President. Austria’s consistent support for European Union-Singapore free trade agreement (EUSFTA) is hoped to be the pathfinder for to an EU-Asean FTA.
The EUSFTA will be signed in Brussels on Friday, October 19. This is expected to enable cooperation with ASEAN at large as ASEAN is working towards a digital integration framework to deepen regional connectivity.
Image Credit: Tang See Kit