By Mousume Roy, APAC Reporter, HCLTech
Singapore and Australia have signed a green economy pact with the aim to establish standards that drive trade and environmental sustainability. In a first, this global trade pact between both the countries covers various initiatives including cross-border clean energy trade, climate investments, financing, technology and digital trade platforms.
This bilateral green economy agreement will develop interoperable policy frameworks that support new green growth sectors and drive tech development in the green economy.
According to a joint statement released on Tuesday by Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, both countries also set up a technical working group to establish statistical measurements of the green economy. The group will discuss the use of environmental-economic data to facilitate policy decision making and reporting.
Green shipping corridors
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a news conference in Canberra that the agreement would start with initiatives such as developing a list of environmental goods and services that could be given preferential trade treatment.
"It will support the transition of our countries to net zero emissions as well as create jobs and growth opportunities in green sectors to promote the development and commercialization of green technologies," Lee said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese mentioned the A$30 billion ($18.8 billion) Sun Cable project, which aims to export solar power from Northern Australia to Singapore via Indonesia, as an example of what the agreement aims to achieve.
A year of collaboration and negotiations
The signing of the landmark agreement follows more than a year of collaboration across government departments, including 13 rounds of negotiations. In this first of its kind agreement, the GEA identifies seven priority areas which may be expanded in the future:
Trade and investment
Standards and conformance assessments
Green and transition finance
Clean Energy, decarbonization and technology
Skills and capabilities
Engagements and partnerships
Under the trade agreement, Singapore and Australia would support small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in the joint development of green technologies, products and services. This would come in the form of grants and business matching efforts, where funds could be used for the development and commercialization of products that drive the decarbonization of economic activities.
Four priorities to start the GEA
Setting standards: Singapore and Australia will look at bilateral and international cooperation on standards and technical regulations.
Business engagements: The two countries will promote and facilitate business-to-business engagements to expand bilateral trade and investments in green economy sectors.
Expert discussions: An Australia-Singapore Green Skills Roundtable will be established for experts from government agencies to discuss how to identify and assess the core skills and competencies needed for workers to take on jobs in the green economy.
Fostering Cooperation on Ecolabelling: Both countries will exchange information on government environmental sustainability policies and programs related to ecolabels (ecological certification program) and introduce contacts within leading ecolabelling organizations and related sustainability schemes.