Nov 12, 2021 08:43 PM

Caixin Summit: Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Urges Stronger Global Leadership for Tackling Global Challenges

There is an “urgent need” to close the global leadership gap in trade, globalization and climate change, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said at Caixin Summit 2021 on Friday, noting the importance of more global coordination as the world has to “navigate a more uncertain and complex road ahead.”

Heng said in a speech delivered at the summit that a lack of coordination especially at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has pointed to “a global leadership deficit,” noting that “there can be no substitute for global leadership.” If the global community can exercise greater leadership, “I have every confidence that we will emerge from this crisis stronger than before,” he said.

The Singaporean politician pointed out that “the urgent need to close the leadership gap comes at a time of stress to the global order, with rising tensions from geopolitical contestation, and fraying consensus around globalization.” He suggested focusing on “3 Ps,” namely “partnerships, people and our planet,” to improve cooperation on trade relations, investment in people and climate talks.

Regarding trade, countries need to “find new building blocks for global economic partnership,” Heng said. It is important to build “a stronger multilateral trading system,” while free trade agreements among like-minded partners, which reduce tariff barriers and drive investment flows, can help make progress, the leader noted.

He said he “is glad” that some economies, including China, have applied or expressed their interest in joining the regional free trade agreement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA). China has formally applied for a membership of both agreements earlier this year, according to the commerce ministry.

“Singapore welcomes like-minded partners to be part of these regional frameworks,” he said. “By growing these frameworks over time, we can realize the vision of a more economically integrated global trading system.”

Noting the impacts of globalization, Heng said governments should also “ensure that their people benefit from globalization,” stressing the importance of achieving a “win-win” paradigm.

“Each country can better benefit from globalization if it commits to growing the overall pie, by transforming their companies and investing in their people across all ages, so that they can better capture the opportunities of globalization,” he said, adding that such investment in people and companies requires stronger global leadership.

Meanwhile, an area that needs more long-term investment is the global response to climate change, Heng noted, as world leaders try to tackle the pressing issue at the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow that concludes Friday.

In a joint declaration announced Thursday at a high-level summit, China and the U.S. have pledged to work together to enhance climate action over the next decade, noting consensus on reducing methane emissions in the 2020s.

Responding to a question during a Q&A session, the Singaporean politician said that he sees “very positive trends” following the notes on bilateral cooperation between China and the U.S., the world’s two largest carbon emitters, and climate pledges such as no new investment in coal-fired power projects outside China.

Last month, China’s cabinet released a new action plan to bring the country’s carbon emissions to a peak by 2030, which highlights the need to “accelerate the development of a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system.”

As countries seek a painful energy transition, Heng said that all economies are facing challenges, though he noted that “it’s a necessary pain.”

“We have to be prepared for the pain, because not doing anything will be worse,” he said.

Contact reporter Cai Xuejiao ( and editor Lu Zhenhua (

Download our app to receive breaking news alerts and read the news on the go.

Get our weekly free Must-Read newsletter.

You've accessed an article available only to subscribers
Share this article
Open WeChat and scan the QR code
Get our CX Daily, weekly Must-Read and China Green Bulletin newsletters delivered free to your inbox, bringing you China's top headlines.

We ‘ve added you to our subscriber list.

Manage subscription
China Stories: Illuminating the Silver Screen for the Visually Impaired