Singapore 'has its special role in Asean'

A gardener arranging flowers beside the Asean logo outside the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Nov 19.
A gardener arranging flowers beside the Asean logo outside the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Nov 19. PHOTO: EPA

It can be a base for Asian economic research, says minister Heng

Every Asean country has a special role in the grouping, Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

For its part, Singapore can play the "modest role" of reinforcing Asean's image as a sustainable economic entity by being a base for Asian economic research, he said.

"I hope that over time, Singapore can be a trusted port of call for Asian economic research.

"With trust, we can weave stronger long-term bonds, enable closer dialogue between our partners and reinforce the image of Asia as a trusted and sustainable economic entity."

The 10 Asean countries are Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

TRUST IS KEY

With trust, we can weave stronger long-term bonds, enable closer dialogue between our partners and reinforce the image of Asia as a trusted and sustainable economic entity.

FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT

Mr Heng was speaking at the opening of the Asia Competitiveness Institute's (ACI) annual conference at Marina Mandarin hotel.

Singapore has been party to many regional trade talks over the past few months and Mr Heng noted the importance of inking pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in his speech.

He said: "You could... be a purist and say this is a very untidy spaghetti bowl of regional trade deals, this is not ideal. And I agree that this is not ideal. But nevertheless, I think it's a very practical way to inject momentum to trade liberalisation and to deepen integration in the region."

He added that over time, states should seek to open the various regional trade deals to wider participation, so as to reach a "better global equilibrium".

At the conference, Mr Heng also witnessed the signing of six memorandums of understanding for research collaborations between the ACI, which is part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and other think-tanks in the region.

He said: "Knowledge is the basis of the new economy and I trust that this conference will set the groundwork for greater knowledge sharing and for creating a better life for all our people."

Among the projects showcased during the two-day conference was the 2016 Global Liveable Cities Index, which measures 64 of the world's most populous cities based on factors including economic vibrancy and competitiveness, domestic security, socio-cultural conditions, public governance and environmental friendliness.

Preliminary rankings place Singapore seventh globally for overall liveability, behind Hong Kong but just ahead of Auckland in New Zealand. Swiss cities Geneva and Zurich topped the list.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore 'has its special role in Asean''. Print Edition | Subscribe