Singapore Trade Policy Forum
By Amalina Anuar
RSIS’ Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) organised the inaugural Singapore Trade Policy Forum (STPF), which was co-sponsored by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian High Commission to Singapore, and the Singapore government. Held from 24 to 25 October 2018, the high-level meeting served as a platform to foster dialogue and policy recommendations on navigating the headwinds and tailwinds faced by global trade and its concomitant institutions.
Around 40 senior trade experts from various governments, businesses, and universities worldwide participated in the STPF. The event was a timely one, especially for small trade-dependent countries such as Singapore, as it addressed contemporary trade issues across six seminars following the welcome remarks delivered by Amb Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS.
Session 1 sought to identify risks and responses to the current trade war. Among the discussed risks were a protracted trade war and further side-lining of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and multilateral rules-based system, which are ill-equipped to handle the geopolitics that lie at the core of current trade tensions. Session 2, meanwhile, highlighted ways to rebuild a stable trading environment, including by more effectively communicating the benefits of trade to defend against the growing spectre of economic populism that has led to more inward-turning trade policies.
Sessions 3 and 4 were more topical, focusing on improving digital trade rules and resolving the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Mechanism limbo. Session 5, meanwhile, touched upon infusing the trading system with greater inclusiveness, whether in the WTO’s architecture or within national societies to forge a renewed consensus for trade. Finally, Session 6 concluded the event by following up on previous discussions and insights.
Last updated on 23/01/2019