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Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the 2nd Pacific Alliance Cooperation Forum

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the 2nd Pacific Alliance Cooperation Forum

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. Good morning. I am pleased to join you virtually at the 2nd Cooperation Forum of the Pacific Alliance (PA) today.

2. The fact that members of the PA and ASEAN are able to gather today despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 demonstrates three key things: 

First, our commitment to cooperation;

Second, the importance of trade architecture; and

Third, the significance of digitisation.

Commitment to Cooperation: The PA and ASEAN as Strong Partners for Growth 

3. Geographical distance and cultural differences have not deterred our pursuit of greater cooperation between the PA and ASEAN. Government-to-government links have deepened over the years, and economic ties have become more robust. Both our regions have also been looking beyond traditional markets in search of new frontiers for our goods and services. 

The growth in total trade flows between the PA and ASEAN bear testament to this, having reached US$42.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 88.1% since 2010.

There is scope to increase trade between our regions as all of us look more into trade supply chain diversification and resilience. This is an area of work we can focus on going forward. 

The interest of ASEAN members in becoming observer states to the PA demonstrates our interest in the potential for collaborations between our regions.

Singapore’s Efforts in Enhancing Cooperation with the PA

4. Singapore stands ready to welcome and help interested companies from the PA access opportunities in ASEAN and vice versa.

ASEAN, with its large population of 640 million and expanding middle class, provides opportunities for PA companies to meet the region’s growing demand for quality consumer products and services.

Singapore is happy to serve as a gateway between our regions. PA companies, such as Concha Y Toro, have used Singapore as a base to export to ASEAN. Similarly, Singapore companies such as Olam and Grupo Kaybee, have exported their products to Latin America using the PA as a base.

Importance of Trade Architecture: PASFTA

5. Amidst the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19, investors look for assurances that their potential investments and business interests will be supported by trade architecture. In this vein, Singapore has been actively working with the PA on the PA-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PASFTA).

Singapore remains committed to concluding the negotiations as soon as possible. The PA can count on our collegiality and collaboration in bringing the PASFTA to a successful conclusion.

PASFTA will facilitate greater market access and investment opportunities across a range of sectors. Going forward, it also gives us a solid platform to work on other trade facilitative initiatives together, to increase opportunities for our businesses and enhance our trade links. 

Significance of Digitisation 

6. Our discussion today is supported by technology and advancements in the digital space, without which we might not have the opportunity to “meet”. The digital economy is here to stay. It already underpins much of the traditional economy and will likely be a fertile ground for the creation of new opportunities. In particular, the digital economy transcends geographical distances, bringing ASEAN closer to the PA. To facilitate this, Singapore has signed the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement with Chile and New Zealand. We are also working with other PA countries to explore collaboration in this area.

Conclusion

7. This forum allows us to learn from each other’s best practices in a challenging new global environment. I wish everyone here a fruitful experience. I hope that the ideas exchanged, and the networking opportunities presented at this event will allow the people of the PA and ASEAN to grow closer together. I look forward to seeing business and people-to-people links continue to grow from strength to strength. Thank you.

 
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