About the Workshop
Southeast Asian leaders have been united in calling for increased cooperation among the great powers for half the past decade, yet virtually everyone observes that tensions have only increased. If a global pandemic could not provide common cause for the superpowers to cooperate, then the pessimistic conclusion would be that multilateral cooperation – long predicated on great power support – is in dire trouble. Multilateral cooperation has increasingly turned to smaller formats such as ‘minilaterals’, which might provide the building blocks for restoring broader multilateral frameworks in the future. Yet to the extent that these become exclusive clubs, fragmentation could worsen. The worst-case scenario is that interdependence – the primary check against interstate conflict – unravels under these conditions.
ASEAN and the wider region have benefitted from globalisation and international trade in the post-Cold War era. Globalisation has increased people-to-people connectivity and given states direct stakes in other states’ prosperities – an important stabilising dynamic. Economies such as Singapore – deeply connected with the global economy – have a strong stake in a globalised world through trade and investment.
Recent global events, however, have dealt a blow to economic globalisation and free trade. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated how vulnerable supply chains are. The US trade war with China, including sanctions against third parties, as well as Chinese sanctions against countries such as Australia and Lithuania exemplify the potency of weaponising trade and financial connectivity. The Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as great power rivalry in the Asia-Pacific are compounding such challenges and are driving a global debate and re-assessment of the trade-offs of economic interdependence as well as energy security.
How can Singapore respond to such trends and best cooperate with its ASEAN neighbours to mitigate against them? As a small city-state with few natural resources and a strong stake in a globalised world, Singapore has an immediate interest in addressing such challenges and think about mitigation strategies. This workshop aims to map and better understand current dynamics and trends and asks what this means for the ASEAN region. It will critically evaluate Singapore’s and ASEAN’s policy options and propose concrete measures. Distinguished experts will raise awareness of current challenges and propose and critically discuss ways to mitigate against the consequences of decoupling and limit deglobalisation.
About the Panellists
Panel 1: Global Challenges and De-coupling. What does ASEAN need to know?
This panel will set the scene by providing an overview of current dynamics and challenges and how these are likely to shape trends in the political economy of the Indo-Pacific.
Dr Dipinder Singh, Senior Fellow, RSIS
Ms Catharine Kho, Economist, ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO)
Professor Kazuto Suzuki, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo
Moderator: Dr Frederick Kliem, Research Fellow, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS
Panel 2: Wither Trade and Investment Multilateralism? The state of APEC, WTO and regional FTAs.
This panel seeks to investigate the current state and likely future of multilateral institutions, from organisations to FTAs, from both an academic as well as industry perspective.
Dr Pradumna Rana, Senior Fellow, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS
Dr Henry Gao, Professor, School of Law, Singapore Management University
Dr Denis Hew, Senior Research Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Moderator: Dr Frederick Chen, Assistant Professor, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS
Panel 3: The Future of the ASEAN Economic Community
In the light of current challenges, this panel will discuss where the AEC is headed and how it needs to adapt in order to best serve SEA’s economic integration and prosperity. It will also discuss the challenges for Timor-Leste’s road towards ASEAN membership and how the country can meet the demands specifically of the AEC.
Dr Jayant Menon, Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore
Dr Lee Su-Hyun, Assistant Professor, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS
Ambassador Roberto Soares, Head of the Senior Officials’ Consultation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Moderator: Dr Joel Ng, Research Fellow, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS