Coronavirus pandemic

New model of cooperation needed to find solutions: DPM Heng

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking via video link at the 12th Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai yesterday. The annual forum was held virtually for the first time, with Singapore as the partner city this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking via video link at the 12th Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai yesterday. The annual forum was held virtually for the first time, with Singapore as the partner city this year.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

He stresses need for countries to work closely together as they tackle common challenges

Amid the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries must work closely together to find global solutions to common challenges, work out a new model of constructive cooperation and strengthen the global governance system, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the 12th Lujiazui Forum yesterday, he said the coronavirus respects no borders, adding that countries must safeguard the global commons, as "no one is safe unless all of us are safe". "In the same way, we need global solutions to many longer-term global challenges, such as climate change, food security and terrorism."

The annual forum, held in Shanghai, brings together government officials, regulators and experts from across the world to discuss economic issues and foster international financial cooperation.

It was held virtually for the first time owing to Covid-19, with Singapore as the partner city this year.

He said all countries, especially the major powers, must work out a new model of constructive cooperation to share global opportunities and global responsibilities.

"This should be done within the framework of an open and rules-based multilateral order where trade, capital and ideas can flow freely; where commitments and agreements are honoured; and where the interests of all countries, big and small, are taken into account," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

It is also important to nurture financial cooperation, he said, as global finance is crucial in rebooting the global economy.

Key to this is making sure that the money flows to productive uses, supports the sustainable growth of the real economy, and improves living standards.

Mr Heng described three major areas of need in the real economy: the infrastructure needs of developing Asia, which are estimated at US$1.7 trillion (S$2.4 trillion) annually; green financing to tackle environment and climate risks; as well as fintech and digital finance.

S'PORE-CHINA COOPERATION

In separate remarks at the forum, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said financial cooperation has been a highlight of bilateral cooperation between Singapore and China, which reaches its 30-year mark this year.

He cited three areas where progress has been made:

 
 
 

 • Growing the offshore renminbi (RMB) market;

 • Enhancing links between capital markets; and

 • Providing opportunities for financial institutions to grow in each other's markets.

Singapore is the largest offshore centre for RMB deposits and RMB trade finance, he said.

MAS and the People's Bank of China are looking to enable designated banks in Singapore to offer custody and trading services for global investors in China's bond market. MAS will also set up a new Shanghai Representative Office in August - its second office in China, after Beijing.

Mr Menon said that both cities can also harness the power of finance to promote a greener, more sustainable economy.

"We could create together frameworks for green and sustainability-linked loans customised for Chinese and Singaporean small and medium-sized enterprises. We could work together to apply innovative fintech solutions to promote green finance."

OPEN AND RULES-BASED ORDER

This should be done within the framework of an open and rules-based multilateral order where trade, capital and ideas can flow freely; where commitments and agreements are honoured; and where the interests of all countries, big and small, are taken into account.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, on how all countries, especially the major powers, must work out a new model of constructive cooperation to share global opportunities and global responsibilities.

 
 

One such example, he said, is the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance founded by China's Alibaba Ant Financial and the United Nations Environment Programme, which has explored applying digital technology to the digitisation of green bonds.

Rounding up his speech yesterday, Mr Heng called on the international community to pool its efforts to tackle the unprecedented crisis. He said Covid-19's impact on societies, economies and the global system will be long-lasting.

"What the world would look like after the pandemic depends on each and every one of us," he said. "Singapore stands ready to work with all like-minded countries to recover from the pandemic.

"Let's use this crisis as a new starting point, to embark on a new mission, and to forge a new vision for our collective future."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2020, with the headline 'New model of cooperation needed to find solutions: DPM Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe