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Singapore Integrating Digital Trade and Sustainability

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong recently participated in the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. With the theme “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” the APEC MRT meeting was hosted by the U.S., APEC 2023 Chair, and was attended by Trade Ministers and Senior Officials from the 21 APEC economies.

Minister Gan made three suggestions to ensure that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) responds more effectively to the challenges nowadays. First, restoring a fully functioning and effective Dispute Settlement System. Second, updating the WTO’s rulebook to address emerging issues on digital trade and environmental sustainability. Third, improving the WTO’s decision-making process.

In today’s interconnected world, digital trade is critical for facilitating frictionless transactions, improving market access, and supporting economic progress. It increases efficiency, creativity, and global connectivity while decreasing barriers and expenses while environmental sustainability is critical for protecting the planet’s resources and combating climate change.

Hence, countries can achieve a healthy balance between economic development and environmental stewardship by integrating digital trade and environmental sustainability, assuring a profitable and sustainable future for future generations.

In addition, Minister Gan spoke on Singapore’s commitment to transition to a green economy. He highlighted that Singapore remained steadfast in securing greener sources of energy, investing in new technologies, strengthening businesses’ capabilities, and upskilling the workforce. The Minister added that Singapore would continue to look towards new trade architectures, such as Green Economy Agreements, to harness green growth opportunities for the people.

One year, after Leaders launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) in May 2022, Ministers from the 14 IPEF partner countries, announced the substantial conclusion of negotiations on an IPEF Supply Chain Agreement.

This is the first multi-country arrangement to strengthen the resilience and connectivity of supply chains through collective and individual actions. Three coordination bodies will be established to advance cooperation among IPEF countries:

  • A Supply Chain Council that will develop sector-specific action plans to strengthen resilience in critical sectors and key goods;
  • A Crisis Response Network to facilitate emergency communications and coordination between governments during supply chain disruptions; and
  • A tripartite Labour Rights Advisory Board that will help promote labour rights in IPEF countries’ supply chains.

The Ministers also introduced a regional hydrogen initiative to encourage the widespread deployment of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen and its derivatives in the Indo-Pacific region, by drawing upon expertise from both the public and private sectors.

According to Minister Gan, Singapore joins other IPEF partners in welcoming an innovative Supply Chain Agreement that will enhance the individual and collective efforts to strengthen the resilience and connectivity of the supply chains.

This will also put the nation in a stronger place to anticipate and respond to any future disruptions to these supply chains. Singapore looks forward to the early operationalisation of the Agreement, as well as further progress being made on the negotiations on the other IPEF pillars. Singapore welcomes the introduction of the hydrogen initiative among interested IPEF partners, to capitalise on the promise of growth in this area and support the respective green economies.

To support these efforts, Minister Gan announced that Singapore will offer capacity-building programmes on topics relevant to each of the four IPEF pillars, such as trade and business development, supply chain management, clean energy and emission reduction, and anti-corruption.

The programmes are organised by Singapore government agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Infocomm Media Development Agency (IMDA), Maritime Port Authority (MPA), Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Tax Academy, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), as well as with other IPEF partners like Japan.


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