Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the Les Rencontres économiques d'Aix-en-Provence

Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the Les Rencontres économiques d'Aix-en-Provence

1. Thank you very much everybody and please allow me to speak in English.


2. First, let me say it is a real honour and privilege for us from Singapore to be represented at this event and on this panel. I will keep my comments brief.


3. We are at a point, where we are dealing with an unprecedented confluence of challenges, emerging from two years of economic and social ravages brought about by COVID. We are dealing with geopolitical tensions and the eruption of war. We are also dealing with supply chain disruptions for a variety of reasons.


4. In this context, globally and at the individual country-level, we need to think about what is the appropriate economic and political policy strategy that we should be adopting. I will make three points on this.


5. Firstly, it is important that especially at a time like this, we resist the tendency to look inwards but ensure that we maintain global international connectivity. This is important because when we talk about supply chain resilience, diversification is essential. It is not just about onshoring or reshoring. It is also about diversifying our linkages. In Singapore, we have embarked on free trade agreements (FTA) and have continued to do so even in the past two years. We concluded an FTA with the European Union (EU) and are continuing to do so with many other countries and regions.


6. Secondly, We need to think about new ways of growing for the benefit of our people. It is not just about doing business as usual, but how to move forward. One, is the digital realm, as digitalisation is everywhere. We need to ensure that our businesses, our economy and most importantly, our people are plugged into this so that they can realise opportunities fully. We have embarked on digital economy agreements and partnerships with many countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Chile. We have also initiated a dialogue with the EU. We want to be able to do more of this to create digital bridges. Next, are green economy agreements, where we can come together as like-minded partners and ensure that the growth that we pursue for mutual benefit is also a growth that is sustainable, green, and that does not harm the future of our planet.


7. Thirdly, we want to ensure sustainable growth and most importantly ensure that it is inclusive. Even as we pursue strategies of internationalisation, we must recognise that the impact on our companies and on our people will be differential. We must ensure, for example, that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are well equipped to participate in this growth, be it is going overseas to new markets, plugging into digital platforms and/or developing their capabilities. I would be happy to discuss the range of policies that we have embarked on in that regard in Singapore. We must also invest in our people. Unless people feel that they have not just the opportunity, but also the skills and capability to participate in these new opportunities or this would be a Pyrrhic victory. What is the point of growth if we cannot benefit the people at large. This is why investing in training and capacity building is a key part of this overall strategy. Therefore, even as we pursue external linkages, new pathways, digital and sustainable growth, it is critical that we also complement these with important domestic economic policies that support the capacity of our SMEs and also the capabilities of our people.


8. Thank you very much.

Contact Us Feedback