G-20 SUMMIT

Singapore set to benefit from boost to global economy: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to members of the Singapore media during a wrap-on session at the G20 leaders Summit in Brisbane on Nov 16, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to members of the Singapore media during a wrap-on session at the G20 leaders Summit in Brisbane on Nov 16, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

He says vibrant world economy will support exports, draw investments

Singapore's economy is likely to get a lift if the world's top leaders deliver on their promise to boost global growth by an extra 2.1 per cent over the next four years.

Although domestic growth is currently constrained by labour and land limitations, a stronger world economy will support trade-dependent Singapore's exports and draw more investments here, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters yesterday.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit, PM Lee said Singapore has "every interest in a vibrant global economy" as "our markets are around the world".

G-20 leaders agreed yesterday to put in place a package of measures to add 2.1 per cent to global growth and create millions of new jobs by 2018.

PM Lee also spoke about other topics that surfaced at the Brisbane summit over the weekend, including infrastructure projects, climate change and the impact of the Republicans' recent sweep of Congress on the United States' foreign policy.

Infrastructure, one of the key pathways by which the G-20 aims to heat up a cooling world economy, is of particular interest to Singapore, he said. Many local firms - including Keppel Corp, Sembcorp Industries and Hyflux - are infrastructure specialists. Singapore is also home to the World Bank's Infrastructure Finance Centre of Excellence, which advises countries on how to structure the financing of their projects.

If multilateral initiatives like those kicked off by the G-20 and World Bank succeed in promoting more infrastructural developments in rapidly growing South-east Asia, Singapore firms can capitalise on these business opportunities, PM Lee added.

In response to a question on climate change - which entered the G-20 agenda after the US and Japan pledged US$4.5 billion (S$5.8 billion) over the weekend to help poor countries invest in clean energy and cope with extreme weather - PM Lee said more will be discussed at upcoming meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

But he hailed the pledge by the US and Japan to the Green Climate Fund as "a good sign" and welcomed the surprise US-China agreement last week to curb carbon emissions. "These are the two biggest emitters in the world. And if they can work something out, I think the rest of the pieces have a chance of falling into place."

Turning to the US, PM Lee noted that the Republicans have generally been keener on free trade and have taken a more "internationalist" view of the US' role in world affairs, including in Asia, than the Democrats.

But whether a "thoroughly Republican" US Congress will agree to work with a Democrat president, even if they agree on the same principles, remains to be seen, he added.

Yesterday, PM Lee rounded off his trip to Brisbane with a dinner reception at the Tattersalls Club, attended by about 270 Singaporeans based in the Australian city. He gave a speech exhorting them to maintain their links to home, especially during Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations next year.

Mr Thompson Wong, 24, said it was a "timely reminder". The final-year communications student at the University of Queensland added that his school's Singapore Students Society plans to organise a few "special surprises" next year for Singaporeans in Brisbane.

fiochan@sph.com.sg