International cooperation necessary for Covid-19 response to buttress global economic recovery: Chan Chun Sing

The declaration outlined the bloc's commitment to supporting the recovery of international trade and investment.
The declaration outlined the bloc's commitment to supporting the recovery of international trade and investment.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - No country has been spared from the impacts of Covid-19, and international cooperation is necessary to respond effectively to the pandemic and buttress global economic recovery, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Sept 22).

"Singapore will work with G-20 members to implement the measures to help our economies and businesses recover as quickly as possible," he said during the virtual G-20 Trade and Investment Ministers' Meeting.

During the meeting - the third and final one before the Group of 20 Leaders' Summit in November - trade and investment ministers of G-20 members and guest countries endorsed the Trade and Investment Ministerial Communique.

The declaration outlined the bloc's commitment to supporting the recovery of international trade and investment, as well as the necessary reform of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

It also committed to boosting the international competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises, and fostering economic diversification.

This "strong affirmation" by G-20 members to cooperate and coordinate responses to support the recovery of international trade and investment is an important step in the right direction, said Mr Chan.

He also outlined four of Singapore's priorities for how the G-20 can send a strong signal to the world on its commitment to support the recovery of international trade and investment.

The first is the need to band together to ensure the resilience of supply chains, and strengthen their connectivity, during the pandemic, said Mr Chan.

"I am glad to note that many of us here today recognise this importance and have already pledged to do so through various Joint Ministerial Statements to facilitate the flow of essential goods across borders," he said in his speech during the teleconference.

Second, G-20 members would also need to continue efforts to accelerate the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

This will improve trade efficiency worldwide and improve the flow of goods across borders, said Mr Chan, adding that doing so will also inspire confidence in the continued relevance of the WTO system, helping businesses and economies bounce back stronger.


Third, members would need to work together to update the WTO system, especially in the realm of digital trade rules.

Mr Chan noted that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, and that greater integration is needed to leverage the full potential of digitalisation.

Singapore, together with Japan and Australia, are co-convenors of the Joint Statement Initiative on e-commerce, he said, and urged countries to participate actively in this.

Lastly, Singapore's fourth priority is to strengthen international investment.

"Increasingly, investors are looking for greater investor and intellectual property protection. This will have to be balanced with priorities of host governments for sustainable development," said Mr Chan.

He said this was an issue that the G-20 can play an important part in, adding that it was something he hoped would be taken up in the upcoming Italian G-20 Presidency in 2021.

During the meeting, he also thanked Saudi Arabia, who holds the G-20 Presidency for this year.

Saudi Arabia had invited Singapore to participate in the G-20 Trade and Investment Meetings as a guest country.


The video conference was also attended by ministers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as guest countries and representatives from global organisations such as the World Health Organisation, WTO, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank Group and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Said Mr Chan: "We hope that members can come together to send a strong signal of our collective will and commitment to uphold and update the WTO system for the good of everyone."