Trade ministers of ASEAN member countries pose for a photograph after signing an agreement on e-commerce in Singapore on November 12. (Photo: Courtesy of the Singaporean Trade and Industry Ministry)

Singapore (VNA) - Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on November 12 signed an agreement to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions within the region.

The agreement, finalised after nine rounds of negotiations which started last June, is the grouping's first agreement on e-commerce. It was signed on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting in Singapore.

Apart from facilitating cross-border e-commerce transactions, the pact will also look to foster an environment of trust and confidence in the use of e-commerce as well as enhance collaboration in promoting the regional economic growth.

Speaking that the signing ceremony, Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that ASEAN is now the fastest growing market in the world, with 330 million Internet users. By 2025, ASEAN’s Internet economy is forecast to increase four fold, reaching 200 billion USD compared to 2017, with e-commerce set to grow to 88 billion USD.

“The agreement is testament to ASEAN’s commitment to create a conducive environment for the growth of e-commerce through advancing trade rules in e-commerce and building up greater digital connectivity within the region,” he said.

It will encourage paperless trading between businesses and governments, which can generate more rapid and efficient transactions in ASEAN.

Businesses can access and move data across borders more easily, subject to appropriate safeguards, he added.-VNA