S'pore and Britain need to fully integrate into the global economy to thrive: Chan Chun Sing

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that despite being separated by a large physical distance, both Britain and Singapore had many opportunities to work together.

SINGAPORE - The world needs new rules and standards for the rapidly changing fields of finance, data and intellectual property, an initiative that would create platforms for countries such as Singapore and Britain to seize new opportunities.

The call came from Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, speaking at the British Chamber of Commerce's business awards on Thursday (Sept 27).

He said: "Trade and finance are our lifelines and have been our lifeblood since time immemorial.

"The UK and Singapore would know it and appreciate it more than many others."

Mr Chan added that the World Trade Organisation system needs to evolve to meet the challenges of connections beyond sea, land and air trade routes.

He pointed to the date Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, saying: "After 29 March 2019, we will continue to live in a globalised world with interconnected production and value chains."

He stressed that it was therefore important for countries to resist the current trend of isolationism: "We have a shared destiny in upholding a rules-based global system for our individual and collective good."

But Mr Chan added that globalisation requires governments to share the created wealth among all members of society: "There will be net winners and net losers in a country, and we will need to find ways to redistribute some of these gains and find ways to help those who have been losing out - relatively or absolutely - to make the adjustments to catch up with the rest of the pack.

"Failing which, there will be the inevitable local backlash, leading to global consequences."

Mr Chan said that despite being separated by a large physical distance, both Britain and Singapore had many opportunities to work together.

Earlier in the evening, the chamber's president, Dr Bicky Bhangu, said Singapore was Britain's largest trading partner in Asean, with a total trade of around $11.4 billion in 2017.

Mr Chan said that beyond bilateral trade, both countries should "use each other as a platform, as a launchpad, and as a gateway to the larger markets around us".

Speaking to the audience of business people at the event at the Shangri-La Hotel, he said: "Many of you have shared with me how you have used Singapore to service the regional economies. And that's how we've connected and built up with each other over years, decades and centuries.

"You will shape how the UK stays engaged in this part of the world. And with your participation I'm confident that the ties beyond the UK and Singapore will continue to grow from strength to strength, never mind what happens on 30 March."

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