The second Singapore Trade Policy Forum, held on 21–22 October 2019, confronted a world where trade wars are no longer a possibility but a damaging reality and where the assault on multilateralism has moved to a new level. As was the case in 2018, the forum brought together around 35 leading trade policy experts from government, academia, and the private sector to analyse the implications of the crisis, and explore solutions. Its tripartite composition encourages the holistic thinking that 21st century policymaking urgently requires.
This year, in addition to considering the immediate threats to the trading system, the forum looked further ahead to issues where progress is critical not only to trade but also to the future of international policy cooperation. These include rulemaking in the digital economy, reform of the WTO, the future of globalisation, and the intersection between trade policy and climate change.
This summary report of a rich discussion underlines the urgency and complexity of the problems. While participants approached these from a range of positions, they all converged on the imperative need to maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system, and also the important role that regional and plurilateral initiatives can play in this scenario. Leadership from Asia-Pacific economies is more important than ever before. The forum also highlighted the need for policymakers to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development and to deepen the dialogue with business.
The organisers would like to thank all participants for their active and thoughtful contributions, and in particular those who agreed to chair sessions and lead discussions. The forum was conducted as per Chatham House rules and this report does not attribute views to any individual.
We also thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, and the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry for their generous support which made the forum possible. The comments reported here do not represent their views or those of RSIS. Lastly, we all thank H.E. Ms Jo Tyndall, the High Commissioner of New Zealand in Singapore, for hosting an excellent dinner for participants at her residence.
Commemorative / Event Reports / Global / International Political Economy / Regionalism and Multilateralism
Last updated on 08/01/2020