The US-ASEAN Business Council Applauds U.S. - Singapore Bilateral Cooperation on Financial Services Data Connectivity

WASHINGTON, DC - On February 5, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Brent McIntosh met with Monetary Authority of Singapore Deputy Managing Director Jacqueline Loh and issued a U.S.-Singapore Joint Statement on Financial Services Data Connectivity in mutual recognition of the greater need to support cross-border data flows. The statement, which is consistent with language on data provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement, committed the U.S. and Singapore to pursue the following goals: 

  • Ensuring that financial service suppliers can transfer data, including personal information, across borders by electronic means if this activity is for the conduct of the business of a financial service supplier. 
  • Opposing measures that restrict where data can be stored and processed for financial service suppliers as long as financial regulators have full and timely access to data needed to fulfill their regulatory and supervisory mandate. 
  • Ensuring that financial service suppliers have the opportunity to remediate the lack of access to such data before being required to use or locate computing facilities locally. 

“The US-ASEAN Business Council strongly supports the U.S.- Singapore Joint Statement on enhanced bilateral cooperation on data connectivity in financial services”, said Alexander C. Feldman, Chairman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “We are in agreement with the governments that responsible flows of data across borders by financial services firms which respect privacy and ensure security will help to foster innovation in the digital economy and particularly bring financial services to those who have been previously left behind. We also believe that these measures will help achieve the shared goal of increasing financial inclusion.” 

Following the joint statement, U.S. Treasury Under Secretary McIntosh delivered a speech at the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics at Singapore Management University addressing data connectivity and opportunities to expand innovation and competition in financial services. In his remarks, Under Secretary McIntosh emphasized that data localization policies, including mirroring, and policies that restrict the free flow of data undermine financial stability and operation resilience, threaten risk management systems, and increase cyber security risks.  

“Economic growth is not a zero-sum proposition,” Under Secretary McIntosh said. “When jurisdictions make their business environments more attractive for trade and investment, everyone – individuals, firms and governments – will benefit.” 

He also advocated for the use of cloud technology, which allows firms, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to access computing power without the need to invest in costly hardware and infrastructure, thus reducing their overall costs of business, as well as democratizing access to artificial intelligence and big data analytics.  

To strengthen cooperation and harmonize key policy objectives, Under Secretary McIntosh issued a call to action, including an announcement that the U.S. is establishing a technical experts group on cross-border data issues on financial services as part of the U.S. G7 Presidency in 2020.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.