S'pore can be US' natural partner to strengthen supply chain resilience, regional engagement: Gan Kim Yong

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and US Vice-President Kamala Harris during a round-table discussion on Aug 24, 2021.
Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong and US Vice-President Kamala Harris during a round-table discussion on Aug 24, 2021.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

SINGAPORE - Singapore can be a natural partner for the United States and its companies to strengthen supply chain resilience and deepen regional engagement, said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday (Aug 24).

He highlighted that trust, diversity and connectivity are strong reasons why the two countries can continue to work together to address common supply chain challenges.

Mr Gan was speaking at a round-table discussion with US Vice-President Kamala Harris and business leaders here on the importance of supply chain resilience.

Ms Harris, who was in Singapore on a high-level visit, also stressed that supply chain disruptions require all nations, in particular those in partnership and allied, to work together to address.

Both acknowledged how the Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted the importance and complexity of global supply chains, with severe disruptions to supply arising from production halts and logistics stoppages.

Ms Harris noted how the demand for goods is outstripping supply as a result of factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

"Families are feeling the impact of this, be it the rising cost of shipping or congestion at ports, or just the reduced production and what that means in terms of the stories that we are now hearing about the caution that if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, now might be the time to start buying them, because the delay may be many, many months," she said. 

"There must be some collaboration and at least some coordination around what we do to meet the demand," she added.

Collaborative efforts such as the new US-Singapore partnership for growth and innovation will help both countries address the immediate and long-term challenges that they face in terms of the need to enhance the supply chain resilience, Ms Harris said.

On Monday, Singapore and the US agreed to convene a high-level dialogue on supply chains, which will bring government and industry leaders together to discuss ways to strengthen supply chain resiliency in the region.

Countries and companies are rightfully paying more attention to the resilience of their global supply chains in the face of disruptions and temporary shocks experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Gan.

While some are considering insourcing entire supply chains to mitigate risks, there are limits to what one country can do on its own, he said, reiterating the importance of countries working together to effectively overcome supply chain challenges.


Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong during a round-table discussion with US Vice-President Kamala Harris on Aug 24, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY


US Vice-President Kamala Harris during the round-table discussion with Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong on Aug 24, 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Mr Gan noted that Singapore is already a gateway to South-east Asia for the US and its companies today, with America being the Republic's largest foreign investor.

The two countries can do more together by enhancing existing collaborations through new partnerships and venturing into new areas such as addressing climate concerns, he added.

"The potential of our G2G (government-to-government) agreements will be realised through the hard work of our business communities, enabled by our excellent trade associations such as AmCham (the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore) and the US-Asean Business Council," Mr Gan said.

Ms Harris added that while the pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses in systems, it has also presented an opportunity to find solutions to the long-term issues that have challenged global society.

In particular for the US, it also has the opportunity to build on its partnership as a member of the Indo-Pacific region and a partner who has a long-term and ongoing relationship with South-east Asia, she said.

Business leaders who participated in Tuesday's session included Temasek International chief executive Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, BlackRock country head for Singapore Deborah Ho, 3M South-east Asia vice-president and managing director Kevin McGuigan and UPS International president Scott Price.

Ms Harris is in Singapore and Vietnam this week to deepen US engagement with South-east Asia. This is her second foreign trip since taking office in January.