Businesses can champion cause of globalisation: DPM Heng

With US-China competition set to stay, corporate world can continue to champion globalisation, says DPM

As strategic competition between the United States and China grows, the corporate world can serve as a bridge between countries and champion the cause of globalisation, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

Voicing concerns about what he called "the world's most important bilateral partnership", he said the US-China competition was here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Both sides had hardened their positions, even though it would benefit the world if they could cooperate on key issues such as the fight to contain the pandemic, the global economic recovery and climate change, said Mr Heng.

"I hope that over time, a framework for a constructive relationship will be developed, even as they continue to compete," he added.

Mr Heng was speaking to business leaders, officials and policy experts from the US and Asia-Pacific at the AmChams of Asia Pacific Business Summit, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands.

He said businesses could play a key role by acting as a bridge while the US-China competition played out, since deglobalisation was to no one's benefit.

They can do so by strengthening constructive efforts to reform the system and supporting efforts to develop "a robust rules-based system, with dispute resolution mechanisms that all can abide by".

"I hope that American corporations can continue to be champions for globalisation," he added.

And as they scour the region for new investment opportunities, Singapore can serve as a base for them, said Mr Heng.


He also noted that the nascent global economic recovery was likely to be uneven and long-drawn, but vaccinations could hold the key to how countries emerged from the pandemic-driven downturn.

On a more positive note, he urged businesses to take a long-term view of the region's growth prospects and continue to invest in emerging opportunities.

These growth areas include infrastructure, the digital economy and sustainability - all of which Singapore can add value to.

And with the digital economy in South-east Asia projected to triple from US$100 billion (S$134 billion) in 2020 to over US$300 billion in 2025, US companies are "well placed to tap on Asia's digital dividend", Mr Heng said.

He noted that American firms remain at the forefront of innovation and are helping to shape the consensus around emerging areas such as the ethical use of artificial intelligence.

"With our strong links to the region, Singapore can continue to be an effective and stable base for companies looking to expand into the region," said Mr Heng.