Singapore

DPM Heng: No need for ‘extraordinary measure’ to counter trade war yet

DPM says S'pore will focus on structural policies amid China-US trade impasse

It is unrealistic to expect that the US and China can resolve their long-drawn trade dispute in a few meetings, but if the two sides can agree on a number of key areas first, it would be an important step that will restore global confidence, says Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Trade conflict between the world's two giants is a negative for the global economy and Singapore will continue to be affected if the situation deteriorates, he warned, at the end of his four day visit to China for an annual top bilateral cooperation meeting.

The Republic is taking steps to stem the fallout, easing its monetary policy just a few days ago by reducing the pace of appreciation of the Singapore dollar slightly.

"I do not see a need at this stage for any extraordinary measure.

"Budget 2020 is coming up in a few months' time and we will continue to monitor the state of the global economy, and there are many sectors in our economy that are still growing," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, yesterday.

STIMULUS READY

Mr Heng had said in July that the Government was ready with a stimulus package to help Singapore workers and businesses, should the economy take a plunge.

Singapore narrowly dodged a technical recession - or two consecutive quarters of quarterly contraction - based on figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Monday.

Yesterday, Enterprise Singapore released data showing that non-oil domestic exports fell by 8.1 per cent in September, shrinking only marginally less than the 9 per cent fall seen in August.

Trade negotiators from the US and China recently reached a partial agreement that in effect kicked the can containing the harder-to-resolve issues down the road. While some analysts have expressed scepticism about whether the two sides can eventually sign a deal, others laud this as a good first move to bridge the divide.

Singapore's finance and insurance sectors are growing, as is the information and communications technology industry. Infrastructure projects can also be brought forward to support the construction industry, said Mr Heng, at the end of his four-day visit to China for an annual top bilateral cooperation meeting.

"What we need to continue to focus on are structural policies that will put our economy on a very different trajectory, and there, the industry transformation maps we have launched are an important element of our structural policies."

Mr Heng said he has discussed with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing about having more extensive consultation with business leaders in the next few months, as they prepare new measures to tackle this transformation.

BUSINESS & FINANCE