Ms Hu Shuli
Publisher, Caixin Media
Chairwoman, Caixin Global
Mr John Thornton
Executive Chairman, Barrick Gold
Co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good evening. Thank you for inviting me to join you this evening.
2. I am glad that Caixin has chosen Singapore for the inaugural Asia New Vision Forum, the first international forum hosted by a China-based media outlet in the post-COVID era.
3. Singapore is always proud to host world class events here. We hope to play a constructive role in bringing leaders from all around the world together, and bridge across different cultures and perspectives, sparking new ideas and friendships.
4. Over the past two days, we have welcomed more than 300 delegates from 10 countries, filling the hall with valuable insights on vital topics with far reaching impact to Asia and the rest of the world, from the global economy to climate change. The forum presents an opportunity to work together to identify a path towards a more sustainable future.
5. While the worst of the pandemic may be behind us, ahead of us are daunting challenges.
6. Not unfamiliar to the audience here, key shifts in the macroeconomic, geopolitical and climate domains, pose new challenges for countries all over the world.
a. In the near term, persistent global inflation and weaker demand will continue to weigh on economic growth. While Asia-Pacific economies may be at a lower risk of recession, we will nonetheless feel the spillovers from a broader economic slowdown.
b. The fragmented geopolitical landscape is putting significant pressures on the multilateral trading system, which many open economies, including Singapore, depend on to thrive.
c. Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and it is happening at an even faster pace than before. Singapore is also experiencing the effects of climate change, from record temperatures to rising sea levels.
Singapore’s Response to Challenges Ahead
7. Singapore is a small country right at the confluence of these trends. We will not be able to insulate ourselves from these shifts and challenges, and we should not. These shifts also present opportunities for us to reinvent ourselves to remain relevant. Let me share some of our strategies to contribute to the global discourse.
Enhancing Singapore’s competitiveness through innovation and workforce competitiveness
8. To sustain longer term economic growth amidst global economic headwinds, Singapore must focus on strengthening our competitiveness. There are many factors that contribute to a country’s overall competitiveness, but I want to focus on two important factors: innovation and workforce.
9. Developing innovation capabilities is crucial in allowing our companies to create globally competitive products and services, both in and out of Singapore. To do so, we facilitate different ecosystem players to come together to help enterprises innovate.
a. We have a strong ecosystem of public and private partners to develop and deliver solutions. The nimbleness of such partnerships was tested during the pandemic, where the industry, research institutes and government agencies came together quickly to respond to the needs during the crisis.
i. One such example is the development of cPass™, the world’s first rapid serology smart test kit. The researchers at Duke-NUS conceived the research and invented the diagnostic kits. GenScript, a biotech company, did the proof of concept research, product design, development and optimisation, and commercialisation. The Diagnostics Development Hub (DxD Hub), a national platform hosted by A*STAR, validated the kit and developed the manufacturing protocols and quality control processes, and secured provisional authorisation from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). All thanks to the agile partnerships, cPass™ was the first commercial kit to receive US FDA approval.
10. At the same time, Singapore invests heavily in the education of Singaporeans not just during their schooling days, but beyond, to ensure that our workforce is equipped to seize new opportunities and remain relevant.
a. We have established the SkillsFuture movement in 2014, to encourage and enable lifelong learning and upskilling among Singaporeans. Under SkillsFuture, we work closely with the industry, union and training institutions to drive the efforts on skills development in growth sectors and design programmes to equip Singaporeans with these skills.
11. Asia is an important growth engine for the global economy, and ASEAN is well positioned to reap the gains given its young population and growing middle class. This is an opportunity for us to collaborate on developing our young professionals to access opportunities in the region and anchor innovation in Asia.
a. We have kickstarted this with Indonesia under the Tech:X Programme, where we allow our young tech professionals from both countries to work and gain experience in each other’s countries.
Enhancing our supply chain resilience
12. Geopolitical tension has reshaped the economic strategies of countries around the world. We have seen efforts to re-shore or “friend-shore” operations and productions.
13. There is much that Southeast Asia can offer to the global supply chain as a region. Singapore will reinforce our position as a regional hub.
a. We collaborate with our neighbours, to leverage on the strengths of one another, and offer companies a gateway to Southeast Asia. We support companies to set up regional operations in Singapore, benefitting from Singapore’s talent pool, stability and extensive connectivity. At the same time, these companies can benefit from the competitive resources of our neighbours, in terms of land, utilities and manpower.
i. The RCEP Agreement will play an important role to support these efforts. This 15-party agreement provides companies with greater transparency, certainty and ease of doing business in the region.
b. Specific to Manufacturing, we have set up the Southeast Asia Manufacturing Alliance. It offers manufacturers a network of strategic partners and industrial parks to twin the complementary strengths of different Southeast Countries.
Rallying the region for climate action
14. Singapore is committed to climate action. However, Singapore’s efforts alone will not be enough to achieve our global climate goals. It requires urgent collective action by all countries. To this end, Singapore has been playing an active role in catalysing climate action globally, and regionally in Asia.
a. We co-facilitated discussions on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement at COP26 and COP27 to develop international frameworks on carbon market, enabling cross-border cooperation.
b. We have also built partnerships to share our knowledge and support other countries to reduce carbon emissions. Through the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), we have hosted more than 150,000 government officials from 180 countries, territories and intergovernmental organisations.
c. Southeast Asia is brimming with potential of renewable energy. To accelerate commercial viability and deployment of renewable energy in our region, we work together with the other ASEAN countries to explore various opportunities, including develop a regional power grid.
15. The Asia-Pacific region will continue to be an engine of global economic growth with enormous promise. While the future may be fraught with challenges, if we continue to work together, I believe we can overcome the challenges ahead and realise this promise.
16. I hope that the discussions over the past two days have been fruitful, and I wish you all a pleasant evening.