Singapore: ‘A Trusted Home Base’ |

Singapore: ‘A Trusted Home Base’

In the last few decades, millions of people in Asia have been lifted out of poverty, forming a new middle class capable of driving growth in the region. That’s why across the world, even as growth has slowed, Asia has managed to remain above the global average.

But to achieve its full potential, “there is much more to do in restructuring our economies and in integrating our region,” said Singapore’s Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat.

He said: “One area which I hope Singapore can contribute is to be a ‘trusted home base’, with strong and deep connections within Asia, and between Asia and the world.”

Mr Heng was the Guest of Honour at the two-day Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) conference. An annual affair, the conference brings together policy makers, business leaders and academics to stimulate discussion on how to realise the productive potential in Asia.

In his opening remarks, Mr Heng credited the strong economic growth to the region’s continued openness to trade and investment – a stance that has been recently reinforced by deals like the formation of the ASEAN Economic committee, the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and discussions on the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP).

He added that he hoped the next step would be to create a free trade area, allowing companies in Asia to benefit from larger markets and economies of scale, and individuals to gain from competitive products, higher growth and wages.

But regional cooperation would require trust, something that Mr Heng said could be enhanced with the sharing of knowledge, including about the complementary strengths between countries, changes that need to be made, and ways to restructure economies.

With various universities and research institutes in Singapore like the ACI devoted to studying the Asian region, Mr Heng expressed hope that in time, Singapore would develop a strong base of accumulated knowledge capital. This, he said, can contribute to building understanding and in turn, trust between countries.

He said: “With trust, we can weave stronger long-term bonds with our stakeholders, enable closer dialogue between our partners and and reinforce the image of Asia as a trusted and sustainable economic entity, thereby attracting investments, creating jobs and playing our parts in contributing to global growth.”

Mr Heng Swee Keat is Singapore’s Minister for Finance and a Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC. Prior to this, he has taken roles as the Minister for Education, the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Chief Executive Officer of the Trade Development Board. He has also worked in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2010, Mr Heng was awarded the Gold Medal in Public Administration and the Meritorious Medal for his contribution to the public service. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Written by the External Affairs department.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

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