SINGAPORE - Singapore plays a very important role in digitalisation integration initiatives in Asean, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday (March 23).
This is primarily driven by the Republic's strong physical and digital connectivity, he said, adding that Singapore is keen to work with fellow Asean members to strengthen digitalisation in the region.
"It doesn't make sense for Singapore alone to be digitalised, because if we want to digitalise our trade documentation, (our Asean counterparts) also have to have the capabilities for digital transactions.
"So it is important for us to develop this together and embark on this journey together," Mr Gan said, adding that, aside from government-to-government cooperation, it is also important for enterprises to press ahead with their own digitalisation journeys and take advantage of such agreements.
He was speaking at a session moderated by Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive Lam Yi Young at the Asean Conference, which is held as part of the four-day Singapore Apex Business Summit at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
The summit, which ends on Friday, is organised by SBF and events firm MP Singapore.
Asked why Singapore is such a pioneer in pushing for digital economy agreements, Mr Gan said that it is in the country's interest to lay down rules in areas such as cross-border data transfers and cyber security when developing such agreements with its trading partners.
Digitalisation is going to change the world, the minister added, and it is better for Singapore to embark on this journey earlier rather than later to ensure it can have digital transactions with its counterparts.
Mr Gan also spoke about how Singapore is hopeful that more countries will come on board with green economy agreements, as the Republic works with Australia on one such pact.
The framework of a green economy agreement will allow countries to forge ahead with decarbonisation and reforestation projects, he added.
During the session, the minister acknowledged there would be headwinds ahead for Singapore's economic growth, given inflationary pressures on commodities such as energy and additional uncertainties arising from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
But despite these, "the longer-term future is very promising for Singapore's economy", he said, calling on firms to embrace transformation and invest in upgrading their human capital, so as to better seize opportunities through sustainability and digital economy initiatives.
Other topics discussed by speakers at the Asean Conference on Wednesday included the future of South-east Asian cities and industries.
In his speech, Mr Frederick Chin, UOB head of group wholesale banking and markets, spoke about the long-term business and investment opportunities in the region.
South-east Asia has been a beneficiary of globalisation, he said, adding: "For Asean to prosper, we must continue to connect within our region and with the rest of the world."