World must cooperate in Covid-19 response, says Chan Chun Sing

No country has been spared 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 yesterday.

"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 a virtual Group of 20 Trade and Investment Ministers' Meeting.

At the meeting - the third and final one before the G-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.

Mr Chan outlined four of Singapore's priorities for the G-20 to 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 in his speech.

Second, G-20 members would need to continue efforts to accelerate the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to improve trade efficiency and improve the flow of goods across borders.

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

 
 

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 by the upcoming Italian G-20 presidency next year.

During yesterday's meeting, he also thanked Saudi Arabia, which holds this year's G-20 presidency. Saudi Arabia had invited Singapore to participate in the G-20 Trade and Investment Meetings as a guest country.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2020, with the headline 'World must cooperate in Covid-19 response, says Chan Chun Sing'. Subscribe