Apec 2013: US govt shutdown unhelpful given its long- term issues, says PM Lee
Nusa Dua (Bali): It is not helpful for the United States to be in political gridlock when there are basic long-term policy decisions to be made, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.
Listing the fiscal balance and the US' needs to strengthen its competitiveness over time, he told a gathering of global business and political leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (Apec) CEO Summit: "These are jobs which take more than one presidential term to carry out."
They were his first comments on the ongoing US government shutdown in the US - due to a stalemate in a divided Congress and into its fifth day and.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama called off his visits to Indonesia and Brunei for this week's Apec and Asean summits because of the crisis.
Mr Lee, speaking at a panel discussion on "State of the World: A Strategic Assessment", said it was a "great disappointment" that Mr Obama had to call off his week-long trip to the region, which included stops at the two meetings, and visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.
Mr Lee added: "Obviously we prefer a US government which is working to one which is not, and we prefer a US President who is able to travel and fulfill his international duties to one who is preoccupied with his domestic preoccupations."
He is confident though that the US will remain a "powerful country" 20 years from now, due to its vibrancy and resilience.
"And that will be good," Mr Lee added.
The others on the panel - the first of more than 10 over Sunday and Monday in the Indonesian resort island - were PWC chairman Dennis Nally, chairman of China food processing giant Cofco Frank Gaoning Ning, and Moody's CEO and president Raymond McDaniel Jr.
Asked about the geopolitical environment by moderator and Bloomberg chief content officer Norman Pearlstine, PM Lee said that the Asia-Pacific's peace and stability will depend on superpowers' relationships, with the most important one that between the US and China.
This has to be managed responsibly by both sides, with a long-term perspective, he added.
The US, he noted, is also in the midst of a "pivot" or shift towards the Asia-Pacific but is still pre-occupied by issues in other parts of the world, such as the civil war in Syria.
"For all the intention and the will, the circumstances don't always push them in this direction. That is a practical problem," he said.
Earlier, PM Lee said in his opening remarks at the start of the discussion that countries' continued prosperity depended on two factors.
Within nations, this required taking necessary steps such as infrastructure investment to sustain growth, and externally, they had to work together to further trade liberalisation and economic integration, through free trade pacts.