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Singapore Business Community supports Asia-Pacific Business Leaders call to focus on the WTO, climate change and the digital economy

  • SBF represented the Singapore business community at the APEC Business Advisory Council’s (ABAC) third meeting for the year.
  • Senior business representatives from around Asia Pacific identify WTO reform, climate change and enabling the digital economy as priorities.
Monday, 26 July 2019 [Singapore] At ABAC’s third meeting of 2019 held from 22 to 25 July in Hangzhou, China, senior Asia-Pacific business leaders voiced strong support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a rules-based multilateral trading system, amidst US-China trade tensions that have affected trade and economic growth in Singapore and the region.

ABAC Chair Richard von Appen stressed the urgency to resolve the crisis in the WTO’s dispute settlement system, specifically, the impasse involving the appointment of members of the Appellate Body. Reforms, he said, are also required to ensure the WTO “remains relevant and fit for purpose”. The WTO plays a critical role in its dispute settlement mechanisms and rules-setting and reforms on international trade.

ABAC business leaders also concurred on the need for urgent action on climate change, calling on businesses to play a key role by developing innovative ideas for climate change so as to achieve more balanced and sustainable growth for current and future generations.

As the rise of digital technology continues to improve productivity and foster innovation, business leaders also recognised that digital technology will continue to facilitate MSMEs growth and women’s participation in the economy through increased connectivity and access to the global value chains. Digital technology is one of the key factors that businesses should leverage to enable a more inclusive society.

Mr Ho Meng Kit, SBF CEO said, “It is more than pertinent now that the WTO should continue to stand strong, with the backing of APEC. Open markets and a rules-based multi-lateral trading system not only aids the growth of trade, but it has helped alleviate social issues such as poverty.

“We should continue to foster technological innovation and leverage digital solutions to create a sustainable, inclusive and facilitative trade environment in the region. In addition, we urge all leaders to come together to resolve their differences amicably and be committed to growth based on free and fair trade and open markets. We look forward to a stronger collaboration amongst governments and businesses to enable a better future for all.”

SBF was represented by Mr Ho and Mr Saw Ken Wye, Chairman of SGTech and CEO of Crimson Logic Pte Ltd at the ABAC meeting. Mr Ho is the Co-Chair of ABAC’s Regional Economic Integration Working Group where he is the Council’s champion for trade in Services. Mr Saw is the Chair of ABAC’s Digital Innovation Working Group where he leads ABAC’s work in providing inputs to the region’s rules and regulations on the Digital Economy and pursuing programmes to help build the APEC community’s capacity on Digital Economy matters.

ABAC is the sole official private sector advisory body of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), that that has direct communications with the APEC Leaders.

The media release for the 2019 ABAC III Meeting is available here for reference.

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