RSIS and Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) held its second dialogue on 2 September 2020, addressing the contemporary topic of “International Politics and the Global Economy in the Post-Pandemic World”. The dialogue was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic instead of in Berlin, Germany, as originally planned. Co-chaired by Prof Dr Volker Perthes, then Director of SWP, and Amb Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, the virtual dialogue brought together more than 30 academics and researchers from both the think tanks.
At the outset, both co-chairs agreed that it is important for multilateral-minded states like Singapore and Germany to exchange views on how to navigate in a rapidly changing geopolitical world. Amb Ong added that it is important for the region to have multilateral cooperation as interdependence remains a key feature for an international economy.
The first session of the dialogue focused on geopolitics and international relations. The panellists observed that the deterioration of US-China relations, exacerbated by COVID-19, could lead to a structural world conflict with high economic and military risks. Arguably, the reduced presence of the United States and concomitant rise of China on the global stage during the pandemic have driven a rethink of some of the assumptions on ASEAN’s regional peace and security, such as whether the United States would remain a guarantor of Asian security, and if China would emerge as a peaceful global leader.
Panellists from the second session focused on economic challenges faced by countries. They identified policy concerns ranging from reinvigorating the economy and food and health security, to dealing with societal inequality and the informal/private sector during crisis. The panellists underscored the importance of government intervention and industrial policies to alleviate the situation. Nonetheless, the pandemic presented growth opportunities for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which the panellists felt the government should invest in.