SINGAPORE is charging ahead with green and digital economy agreements and is keen to work with Asean members to leverage new opportunities that will emerge from these fields in the coming years.
On the digitalisation front, strengthening digitalisation among Asean members is key.
Digital trade documentation, for instance, is an important facility that will allow for trade without physical paper documentation. This will speed up the process and save costs for traders and exporters, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong.
He was speaking at the Asean Conference, part of the Singapore APEX Business Summit, with Lam Yi Young, chief executive officer of the Singapore Business Federation.
“It doesn’t make sense for Singapore alone to be digitalised because if we want to digitalise our trade documentation, our counterpart must also have the capabilities. So it’s important for us to embark on this journey together,” he said.
Gan also identified other areas such as digital payment transaction and unique identification systems which will make it easier to facilitate trade. This is important not just for intra-Asean trade, but also for big markets and/or exporters that want to do business with Asean, he noted.
The digital economy and sustainability were two topics Gan identified when asked by Lam what he saw as emerging trends.
On the sustainability front, Singapore is in discussions with Australia on a Green Economy Agreement which aims to facilitate green growth.
In the area of carbon credits for instance, Singapore will, over time, need to purchase carbon credits due to limited resources, said the minister.
“We will need to look at how we can trade in carbon credits. This will require understanding between countries how carbon credits can be traded across borders,” he said.
“The green agreement will allow us to do that and will allow us to also explore green projects. For example, we could potentially invest in reforestation projects in some other countries.”
Overall, the opportunities created through sustainability and the digital economy will benefit the economy and workers and is the only way to sustain growth in the long term, Gan said.
“Despite the headwinds that we are going to see over the next few months and despite the inflationary pressures, the longer-term future is very promising for Singapore’s economy. But a lot depends on enterprises’ ability to transform, to upgrade, and to seize these opportunities.”