Singapore will continue strengthening global trade connectivity to solidify position as business hub: Gan Kim Yong

SINGAPORE – Singapore will continue to focus on a long-term strategy of extending and deepening its trade connectivity globally to entrench its position as a business hub, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Monday (Nov 15).

Its 26 free trade agreements with economies that make up 85 per cent of worldwide gross domestic product have allowed the country to become the hub for business, travel, talent and trade, he noted, highlighting the importance of South-east Asia for Singapore as well.

“We are also working with like-minded partners to develop new trading relationships in emerging areas like the green economy as well as the digital economy,” Mr Gan added.

He was speaking at a dialogue at the eighth annual Milken Institute Asia Summit, during which he also talked about Singapore’s approach towards sustainability and dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two-day event is held in a hybrid format at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. The dialogue was moderated by Milken Institute chairman Michael Milken, who was attending the session remotely through a holographic presence. More than 300 people will be at the summit in person.

The institute is a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank based in California.

Mr Gan outlined Singapore’s Green Plan 2030, which was rolled out earlier this year, and how it charts the country’s efforts towards sustainable development in areas such as energy transition and the development of new technologies.

The green economy is a central part of this plan, he said, noting that this is an opportunity for companies to transform and embrace sustainability as part of their core strategies.

“I think in time to come, sustainability will be a key selling point of many of our companies and businesses,” Mr Gan said, adding that the Government is providing support.

For instance, Singapore recently rolled out the Enterprise Sustainability Programme and the Enterprise Financing Scheme-Green to help local firms develop sustainability capabilities through training workshops and funding.

“Externally, we are also talking to like-minded partners around the world to develop collaboration platforms for the development of (the) economy.”

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Milken Institute Asia Summit at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Nov 15, 2021. PHOTO: MILKEN INSTITUTE

Mr Gan, who is co-chair of a multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, was asked where Singapore is headed as it gradually reopens its economy amid the pandemic.

He outlined the country’s strategy of living with the coronavirus, including through the administration of vaccines and booster shots, contact tracing and testing, and noted that it is keenly watching the development of Covid-19 therapeutics.

“This will allow us to continue our journey of opening and to allow Singapore to… re-establish, deepen and strengthen our connectivity with the rest of the world,” he said.