Finance critical to achieve Singapore’s sustainability, digitalisation and innovation goals: Tharman

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said financial markets have a crucial role in driving innovation, energy transition and digitalisation. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Financial markets have a crucial role in driving innovation, energy transition and digitalisation, which together will help Singapore pull through current global uncertainties and face future challenges.

Speaking at the Asia Financial Markets Forum in Singapore on Wednesday, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said finance is critical to solving the broader challenges of economic development, especially amid soaring inflation, slowing growth and rising geopolitical tensions.

“We in Singapore are determined to play our part to connect global markets, to support and advance Asia’s continued development and the push towards sustainability in particular,” he said in a pre-recorded special message at the annual event, held at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said financial markets help drive innovation by allocating capital where the best outcomes are most likely.

Many companies in Singapore will need financing to bring to reality their innovative ideas on sustainability and digitalisation – areas of the economy that will drive future growth, he said in a keynote address at the forum. “Singapore as a global financial hub is well poised to support the greening of the economy through the intermediation of capital,” he said.

Meanwhile, digitalisation serves as a powerful tool for business transformation, allowing companies to improve, automate and increase productivity, said Mr Tan.

Mr Tharman, who is also chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said the world today is more conflict- and tension-prone, and at the same time faces challenges such as climate change, recurring pandemics and stagflation – where growth slows while inflation remains stubbornly high.

“The risks are obvious, and the confluence of risks is truly unprecedented,” he said.

Mr Tan said globalisation appears to be in retreat and rules that have governed international trade for more than 70 years are now under serious threat.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict has put international rules and norms to the test. The strategic rivalry between the United States and China has deepened, and it’s putting significant strains on technology, trade as well as finance.”

But Singapore will continue to safeguard its neutrality and is committed to building an environment that is welcoming of global businesses.

“Even as some countries turn inwards and embrace protectionist moves, Singapore will continue to remain open and connected to the world,” Mr Tan said.

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