Madam Gao Yan, Chairperson for the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the China Chamber of International Commerce
Ladies and Gentlemen,
3. Against the backdrop of today’s challenging global situation, this forum is timely and apt. It reiterates the importance of trade and investment facilitation, as well as liberalisation to support global economic recovery.
Despite COVID-19, Singapore and China have continued to maintain strong economic ties and explore cooperation in new areas.
4. Our bilateral trade and investment flows between Singapore and China remain strong.
a. China is Singapore’s largest trading partner.
b. Singapore is also China’s top foreign investment source and one of China’s largest overseas investment destinations.
5. Singapore and Jiangsu also maintain close economic ties and regular engagements through various platforms.
a. First, our pioneer bilateral Government-to-Government project, the Suzhou Industrial Park, (SIP) for short, has served as a pathfinder for our bilateral cooperation in the past 27 years.
i. Today, the SIP ranks amongst China’s most competitive and successful modern integrated townships.
ii. With more than half of Jiangsu’s Pilot Free Trade Zone sited in the SIP, the project has contributed greatly to the growth of the free trade zone.
b. Second, the Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council and the Singapore-Nanjing Cooperation Panel have also unlocked new collaboration opportunities between our countries.
i. For instance, the newly launched Singapore’s Professional Services Welcome Pack will be able to better support Jiangsu enterprises looking to expand into Singapore and the Southeast Asia markets.
Beyond bilateral cooperation, enhancing economic integration and seizing new opportunities are important building blocks for our future.
6. Looking ahead, there is much room for us to strengthen our cooperation and build sustainable and long-term growth for our economies. Singapore believes that it is important to enhance economic integration and seize new opportunities to stay competitive in the near future.
Enhancing Economic Integration
7. We believe that a rules-based trading system will help to enhance economic integration. Hence, it is heartening to note that more countries are committed to pursuing open and inclusive trade regimes.
a. Both Singapore and China are part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is the world’s largest trading agreement, covering one-third of the global population and GDP. RCEP will come into force on 1 January 2022. It will expand regional trade and investment flows, deepen economic linkages, and create new opportunities for businesses and people.
b. ASEAN and China are also working together to implement the remaining elements of the Future Work Programme under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) Upgrade Protocol. Further liberalisation of the trade in goods is on the agenda. ASEAN and China are also looking to expedite a joint feasibility study to enhance the ACFTA by including areas such as electronic commerce and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
c. Recently, China has also applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).
d. Singapore welcomes like-minded partners to be part of these regional frameworks. By growing these frameworks over time as building blocks for future growth, we can realise the vision of a more open and integrated global economy.
Seizing New Opportunities
8. We must also seize new economic and trade opportunities to stay attractive and relevant.
9. The digital and green economy are promising areas where we can do so.
a. The pandemic has accelerated growth in cross-border e-commerce and increased demand for digital services. This offers fresh opportunities for countries to transcend physical borders and constraints. Today, China is the world’s second largest digital economy, while Southeast Asia’s digital economy is expected to grow to US$1 trillion by 2030. We see tremendous growth potential in this sector.
b. At the same time, climate change is an existing and major challenge for all. Many countries, including Singapore and China, are increasingly committed to developing the green economy and reducing emissions.
i. Singapore launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 in February this year. We are committed to work towards our concrete targets over the next decade and to achieve our carbon peak by 2030;
ii. Likewise, to ensure that China meets its 2030 carbon peak and 2060 carbon neutrality targets, China has a “1+N” policy framework
c. As Singapore gears up for the new future,
i. we will not let up our efforts to enhance our capabilities in new growth areas to support industry transformation.
ii. We will continue to work closely with several like-minded partners, including China and ASEAN, to explore further collaborations in the digital and the green economy.
10. As we build on our strong bilateral ties, and continue to enhance economic integration and capture new opportunities, I am confident that Singapore, China and the region will continue to be vibrant and attractive, and serve as key engines of growth in the world for years to come.
11. I wish you all a fulfilling time, and also great success for this International Forum. Thank you.