Vivian Balakrishnan calls on G-20 to 'stop weaponising food', avoid protectionism

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali on July 8, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SINGAPORE

JAKARTA - Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday (July 8) called on his counterparts from the Group of 20 largest economies (G-20) to uphold multilateralism, help smooth the flow of food and ease cross-border trade of renewable energy.

Singapore is not a member of the group, but was invited to the G-20 meeting of foreign ministers in Bali as the convenor of the Global Governance Group, which comprises 30 small and medium-sized members of the United Nations.

On Friday, the second of the two-day forum, participants discussed ways to strengthen multilateralism as well as strategic policies to address the current energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war.

Dr Vivian described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "full-frontal assault" on the principles of the UN Charter, which prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial sovereignty or political independence of any state, large or small.

Singapore was the smallest nation represented at the meeting, he noted, adding: "We are dependent on a stable world that cooperates on the basis of multilateralism. But we are now facing a perfect storm - pandemic, war, energy crisis, bifurcated world, superpowers."

He urged the G-20 leaders to guard against protectionism and to "avoid retreating back to an era of the Cold War".

Thanking G-20 host country Indonesia for inviting Russia and Ukraine in the meeting, he said "dialogue and diplomacy remain essential".

He called on the G-20 to help ease the movement of food, particularly grains from both the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, into the global market.

"My appeal to the G-20 is to stop weaponising food, get food flowing across borders, support research and development, and help us get into a sustainable world where we can feed people and we do not make things worse."

Dr Vivian also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Indonesia, China, India, France and the European Union, where they discussed key regional and international developments and agreed to deepen bilateral ties.

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