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Speech by Minister Josephine Teo at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd Chongqing Connectivity Initiative Financial Summit

Speech by Minister Josephine Teo at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd Chongqing Connectivity Initiative Financial Summit

Mayor Tang Liangzhi

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen 

1. Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to participate in the 3rd Chongqing Connectivity Initiative Financial Summit. I would first like to thank the Chongqing government for organising this event despite the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2. COVID-19 has challenged us in unprecedented ways, from the immediate public health crisis, to follow-on effects such as the impact on our economies and disruptions to supply chains. Yet, it has also highlighted the importance of staying connected across borders and regions. While many of us are unable to gather physically in Chongqing today, I am glad that many of our friends from ASEAN are joining us through videoconference.

3. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ripple for months and even years to come. Notably, it has accelerated digital transformation and highlighted the role of digitalisation in fostering growth and resilience. In this respect, the financial sector has been, and will continue to be, a key driver of adoption and innovation in the digital space. This Summit is hence timely in bringing together central banks, financial regulators, and key industry players from ASEAN and China to explore how we can build stronger financial linkages between our regions, and raise the level of our financial services.

4. The relationship between ASEAN and China is multifaceted and underpinned by robust economic ties. Trade and foreign direct investment flows in both directions continue to grow. China has maintained its position as ASEAN’s largest trading partner for ten consecutive years. Despite COVID-19, trade volumes between ASEAN and China increased by 5.6% year-on-year in the first half of 2020. This has made ASEAN China’s largest trading partner for the first time, surpassing the European Union and the United States.

5. This economic relationship will be further strengthened with greater financial connectivity. High quality financial services can catalyse cross-border trade and investment flows, allowing Chinese and Southeast Asian enterprises to seize opportunities and expand into each other’s growing markets. Western China, and Chongqing in particular, present many opportunities for cooperation in the financial services. Under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, or CCI, Singapore is working with Chongqing on cross-border financing, digitalisation of trade, green finance and disaster risk insurance. Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, will elaborate on the many exciting opportunities for collaboration in these areas later. 

6. Through such collaborations, Singapore and Chongqing can play a facilitative role to bring about closer cooperation between ASEAN and Western China. In particular, the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, or CCI-ILSTC, can further increase its value propositions by piloting and offering new digital and financial solutions for its users. Today, the enhanced connectivity between our regions has already made the CCI-ILSTC a viable alternative to traditional trade routes, with a year-on-year increase in cargo flows in the first three quarters of 2020. Stronger linkages in both physical and non-physical dimensions, including finance, will help unlock the region’s economic potential and ensure the resilience of our supply chains.

7. Both ASEAN and China continue to enjoy strong fundamentals for growth. By broadening and deepening the integration between our two regions, we can mitigate the impact of an uncertain external environment. I am confident that we will continue to work towards this common goal, find new concrete avenues for collaboration, and come out even stronger than before. 

8. I wish everyone a fruitful Summit. Thank you very much. 

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