Parliament: Singapore chosen as venue for Trump-Kim meeting due to its principled stand and neutrality: Chan Chun Sing

Singapore's principled stand on geopolitical issues and its neutrality are among the reasons for it to be chosen as the venue for historic meetings, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Monday (May 14).
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said Singapore's task and priority is to ensure that it remains relevant into the future.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said Singapore's task and priority is to ensure that it remains relevant into the future.PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Singapore's principled stand on geopolitical issues and its neutrality are among the reasons for it to be chosen as the venue for historic meetings such as the upcoming summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As a small state, Singapore's task and priority is to ensure that it remains relevant into the future, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Monday (May 14).

In a speech during the first day of debates on the President's Address, Mr Chan said that to do this, Singapore has to have a deep understanding of the different interests, institutions and individuals shaping global developments.

"To remain effective and attractive, we must develop people with a deep understanding of the region and the world, so that we can create value when others do business with us," he said. "We must also help Singaporeans - both individuals and businesses - access and penetrate global markets better."

Overseas Singapore chapters and chambers should build networks to help fellow Singaporeans connect with one another and overseas partners, while also helping overseas partners connect with Singapore, he said.

Singaporeans must have an ability to understand and work across cultures and nationalities and the Republic must have a diversity of talent, both local and global, he added.

He spelt out a vision of foreign professionals with valuable knowledge, skillsets, and competencies working shoulder-to-shoulder with skilled Singaporean talent, "cross-pollinating ideas and bringing out the best in each other".

To secure its place in the world, Singapore must also better connect to the world as its hinterland, gaining better access to resources and markets, he added.

This means doing business with more markets, negotiating new free trade agreements while upgrading existing ones and exploring new markets, he said.

Singapore should also go beyond the conventional dimensions of air, land and sea connectivity, by ensuring that it is connected to the world in the realms of data, finance, talent and technology, he said.

And as global production and supply chains shift, Singapore must stay agile, and shift from getting others to trade with and through Singapore, to getting them to trade on Singapore's platforms.

For example, he said, PSA knew from the 1980s that it could not possibly compete with the other mega ports in the world in terms of size. It decided to update its strategy to become a global port and supply chain operator, to compete at the system and network level, rather than at the port level.

Today, PSA is working with partners to use the PSA platform regardless of where the trade flows may be.

Mr Chan noted that Singapore's economy is maturing, and to achieve sustained and quality economic growth, it must not only be able to attract activities here but also venture out.

"This means, beyond looking at GDP as a benchmark, we have to focus on GNI too," he said.

The GNI (gross national income) is the sum of a nation's GDP (gross domestic product) - the total value of goods and services produced within the country - and the net income it receives from overseas.

"Not just about giving Singaporeans the best opportunities here in Singapore, but also helping Singaporeans to seize the opportunities beyond Singapore," he added.

Mr Chan warned that as a society matures, it usually becomes more conservative - choosing to uphold the existing systems rather than break new grounds.

But to be "pioneers of our generation", Singapore must be clear-eyed about our challenges, he said.

"We need to keep up our vitality and verve. It is one thing to be the best-in-class for ports and airports. But it is another, to be even better - ready for tomorrow's needs, ahead of time," he added.