In a webinar discussion on the economic outlook for trade, The Economist’s Asia Trade Insight Hour series, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing noted that global trade has enabled economic growth that has uplifted millions from poverty, but pushback has grown due to uneven distribution of trade’s benefits.
Amidst the current uncertainties in the world, global growth will slow with less trade. Yet, it is “in the interests of like-minded countries and companies to uphold the global trading system”, Mr Chan said.
While trade is a net positive for a country, its benefits may not be felt. Domestic adjustments must therefore be made to ensure industries and workers are not left behind.
“Governments must help businesses and workers adapt to the evolving realities and make the necessary adjustments, so that they can benefit from trade,” he said.
Many companies are rebalancing efficiency and resilience because of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical developments in the world.
A resilient supply chain, Mr Chan said, is one that comes from diversity and integration.
“With our strong connectivity and stable, long-term policies, Singapore is a safe harbour for companies looking to base their operations in this increasingly uncertain economic climate,” he said.
Singapore has maintained an open posture throughout this pandemic.
“We have been working proactively with like-minded partners to maintain open supply chains especially for essential items including food and medical supplies,” Mr Chan said.
“We are also leaders in driving the development of the digital economy ecosystem, and are in active talks with digital giants. This will stand us in good stead for the next phase of growth in the global economy.
While the path ahead is unclear, Singapore is confident in our long-term fundamentals. We will strive to remain relevant in the post COVID-19 world by playing the role of an interlocutor, connecting countries and companies around the world.”