Economic Affairs

Singapore's future lies in the past

Singapore should do more to leverage its location in South-east Asia and get to understand the language and culture of the Malay-speaking world better, rather than depend on the rise of China or the West to keep thriving

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The dominant narrative in global affairs these days is that "the West" is "retreating" from globalisation while China is "rising", with the intimation that this poses a threat to global prosperity and security, including to Singapore.

Western retreat has been implied from a series of significant developments: the 2016 Brexit vote and Trump election; the rise of populist-nativist political parties in Europe; increasing trade protectionism and restrictions on foreign investment and immigration; more stringent regulation of tax-and-subsidy arbitrage and competition policy; hints of a revival of national industrial policies; and some high-profile examples of "reshoring" of global business to the United States.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2018, with the headline Singapore's future lies in the past. Subscribe