DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 31 August 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services on 31 August 2022.

Vice Premier Han Zheng, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to speak at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS).

CIFTIS takes place at a challenging time for the global economy. The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, although many countries have learnt to live with the virus. But the risks of new variants and further outbreaks remain. The global economy is also under strain, due to conflict, geopolitical tensions, and extreme weather events. 

But there are reasons to be optimistic. First, global trade has recovered beyond pre-pandemic levels. Global trade in 2021 reached US$28.5 trillion, an increase of 13% compared to 2019. Global trade in services in the last quarter of 2021 rose to US$1.6 trillion, slightly above pre-pandemic levels. Second, many countries remain committed to economic cooperation. The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2022 delivered meaningful outcomes in key economic and trade issues, such as electronic commerce and fisheries. It has also bolstered confidence in the continued relevance of the WTO and the multilateral trading system. The RCEP, which China and Singapore are parties to, is the world’s largest trade agreement covering about 30% of global GDP and one-third of the world’s population. It will expand trade and investment flows, as well as deepen economic linkages within the region. Such regional cooperation help sustain the momentum for trade liberalisation and economic integration globally. 

As China continues to reform its economy, its services market will grow and offer opportunities to the world. China’s services industries already account for more than half of its GDP, and continue to grow rapidly. In 2021, China’s international services trade increased by 16.1% year-on-year. China has also continued to attract foreign investments in services sectors such as financial services, healthcare and tourism.  

CIFTIS is an important platform for countries to explore new opportunities in services trade and investments with China. The focus of this year’s CIFTIS in digital and green economy, is very relevant to the challenges we are facing. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated growth in cross-border e-commerce activities and increased demand for digital services. Climate change affects all of humanity. Recent extreme weather events are prompting more countries to commit to developing the green economy and pursuing sustainable development.

Within this global backdrop, it is encouraging that the longstanding economic relations between Singapore and China, especially in services, are growing deeper and wider. China was Singapore’s fifth largest trading partner for services in 2020. In 2020, bilateral services trade reached nearly S$40 billion, a year-on-year increase of more than 7%. Singapore and China recently signed two MOUs in June 2022 to promote bilateral cooperation in the digital economy and in green development.  These two MOUs will help to unlock new opportunities for our businesses in areas such as electronic commerce, other digitally-enabled services, green financing, and environmental services. At the same time, Singapore and China are reviewing the existing China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement to enhance market access for our businesses in services such as education, legal and telecommunications.

I look forward to co-chairing the 18th Singapore-China Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation with Vice Premier Han Zheng later this year, hopefully in person. 

I wish the CIFTIS a great success.  

Thank you.