Jul 28, 2023

Singapore Offers to Facilitate U.S.

Singapore’s top trade official said the city-state is willing to facilitate a dialogue between the US and China to repair their relationship, as he described growing tensions between the world’s biggest economies as detrimental to the world.

US-China tensions “have serious consequences for the rest of the world,” Gan Kim Yong, Singapore minister for trade and industry, told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin in an interview Thursday. “Singapore as you know has always wanted to do business with both.”

Singapore’s economy relies heavily on trade and is vulnerable to shocks resulting from disruptions in commerce, especially involving China, the city-state’s No. 1 trading partner. The latest trade tensions stem from the US’s effort to clamp down on China’s access to critical semiconductor technology and to impose export controls.

“All of us are concerned and watching this development very closely,” Gan said, referring to the export controls. “Singapore’s interests and interests of the rest of the world are for the US and China to have a stable relationship as well as a constructive one,” he added.

Singapore and other Southeast Asian governments have been focused on building their relationship with the US around talks on the White House’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. While participants have celebrated renewed attention from Washington on the 10-nation region and its neighbors, that agreement has been under fire for being too focused along counter-China lines and bearing too little substance — especially with no market-access deals that the trade-reliant nations across Asia crave.

While the pace of Singapore’s economic expansion is expected to moderate to a sluggish 0.5%-2.5% this year, it’s confident of avoiding a recession amid a boost from China’s reopening.

“We depend on the growth of the world to fuel Singapore’s growth,” Gan said, noting that forecasts will be adjusted depending on the evolving global environment.

In the backdrop of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivering hawkish messages on its inflation fight this week, Gan said “the jury is still out” on whether the US will achieve a soft or hard landing and its impact elsewhere.

Countries are balancing the need to fight inflation with supporting growth, he said.

—With assistance from Anand Menon.

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