May 10, 2022
Senior Editor and Host of Global Translations, Politico
Current tensions with China and Russia’s war on Ukraine are causing complicated trade and economic discussions across the globe. To help foster these discussions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Global Forum, held on May 10 and 11, 2022, focused on unlocking global financial markets, digitalization of the global economy, and addressing current geostrategic risks.
During one of the day one panels of the Forum, Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom, and Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore discussed the current state of British and Indo-Pacific trade and how businesses are responding to geopolitical circumstances and challenges.
Singapore Is Committed to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)
For Singapore, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) provides an important platform allowing countries in its region to come together and find opportunities for collaboration. Minister Gan explained Singapore’s hopeful reliability on the Biden Administration’s IPEF; citing a few ways Washington can make the framework meaningful to Singapore.
“It is necessary for the framework to be inclusive; to be flexible,” he said. Minister Gan defined “inclusive” as including as many young members as possible. “Some members may be ready, [but] some members [may] need to adjust … to have that domestic consultation.”
According to Minister Gan, the IPEF’s inclusivity and flexibility are crucial to achieving success.
“It should also be flexible so that members can decide particular areas of interest. And when they are ready, they can then join specific areas,” he said.
Britain and Singapore Are Working to Pursue Multilateral Cooperation
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a report in November of 2021 analyzing macro trends and industry impacts of what decoupling from China would mean for the global economy. Within the panel, both Secretary Trevelyan and Minister Gan offered thoughts on its impact on their respective nations.
“We have a very substantial bilateral trading relationship with China and it's very good … our businesses want to continue to grow that [relationship],” said Secretary Trevelyan. ”What we always want to make sure that we have is a framework of free and fair trade that works for both sides.”
“I think it's better for us to continue to pursue multilateral cooperation,” Minister Gan said. “A stable environment where we can all thrive together and cooperate together is the ideal, but unfortunately, this ideal is increasingly becoming more difficult to achieve.”
Minister Gan ended his statement with encouragement, noting that Singapore won’t give up hope on that ideal and will continue to strengthen this open and inclusive rules-based multi-lateral order to pursue global prosperity and peace.
Solving Global Food Security Issues Will Require Open Agricultural Trade Routes
When asked what trade policymakers can do to ease the strains around food security and possible famine, particularly amid the current conflict in Ukraine, Secretary Trevelyan and Minister Gan both asserted their commitment to opening agricultural trade routes.
“There are ongoing discussions [among] a number of countries working closely with Ukraine to help them think about how we can help them manage their trans-logistics in the short term and medium term,” said Secretary Trevelyan. “Some of the damage to ports there will have long-term [effects].”
Minister Gan echoed support of Secretary Trevelyan’s methods and added from Singapore’s lived experiences.
“We have put in place a lot of measures to ensure that our supply chain is resilient,” he said. “This includes inclusive diversification of sources of supply so not [to depend] on any particular single source.”
From the Series