Singapore — The country’s Trade and Industry Minister has highlighted the seriousness of trade tensions between the United States and China. Chan Chun Sing stressed in a May 14 (Tuesday) public Facebook post that Singapore must be ready to face challenges resulting from this fallout.

First, Chan acknowledged that trade war between the two global powers are reflective of the US viewing China as a “strategic competitor,” and China wondering if “the US is seeking to thwart China’s growth.”

Having acknowledged this, he expresses hope of a satisfactory resolution, “We all hope that both countries will overcome their respective domestic challenges, and be able to deal with each other confidently, on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.”

Chan echoes global warnings that the dispute between the world’s two biggest economies would affect other countries: “Worsening trade tensions will affect global business and consumer confidence, hurting global trade, investment, as well as job creation.”

All the more, the Trade and Industry Minister emphasises, that Singapore needs to be prepared.

“Singapore cannot be immune from all these fallouts. We need to follow closely what is happening, and gird ourselves to deal with the impending challenges.”

First, he stressed the need for Singapore to sustain partnerships with nations who have similar aims, in order to protect the trading system worldwide: “We must continue to work with like-minded countries to uphold and update the global trading system.

The minister is confident that Singapore has what it takes to continue to attract and nurture these partnerships: “Singapore supports a rules-based, stable and predictable international trading environment, which has been a crucial enabler for our growth. We are breaking new ground pursuing more high-quality Free Trade and Digital Economy Partnership agreements, to open more markets to our businesses and secure better opportunities for ourselves.”

The alternative of a fragmented world, he warns, will risk small countries like Singapore being shut out.

On the local front, the minister also urges Singapore to strengthen its own business foundations: “.. we must get our own fundamentals right. Our business environment and workers’ skills must be competitive for us to stand out from the competition, amidst ongoing disruptions.”

He also said that the Singapore government will be boosting local industries: “The government will spare no effort to help our industries become more competitive, to create the right conditions for others to invest here, and to create good jobs for Singaporeans.”

Chan added that this would advantage Singapore: “We can be the safe harbour for data, finance, talent, and technology. We can also be the trusted hub for progressive rules and regulations. We can further distinguish ourselves by being the connector across different systems and standards. We will continue to promote integration, not fragmentation.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Chan also spoke about the US-China trade war at the opening dinner of the 6th International Maritime Security Conference, highlighting how the global political climate has been affected by recent events, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reports.

“Great power rivalry and nativist politics have added isolationist pressure, threatening to reverse globalisation and the idea of cooperation and shared benefits.

In explaining futher, the minister pointed to Brexit as an example of fragmentation come true: people unhappy with wealth and progress inequity vote for isolation to protect themselves against globalisation.

Chan then ended his Facebook post with a call to unity, tinged with a hint of upcoming nation-wide voting as his incumbent political party gears up for general elections: “We need to continue as a united people with a competent government that can steer our ship through the turbulent waters and come out ahead, stronger.”/ TISG

Read related: Chan Chun Sing: We need to take uncertainties in Malaysia very seriously so that economy is never held to ransom