Remarks by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the High-Level Meeting: Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping A Brighter Shared Future at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, on 26 April 2019.
Your Excellency Vice Premier Han Zheng, fellow leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am very happy to join you for the 2nd Belt and Road (B&R) Forum.
I listened carefully to the insightful speeches by President Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Han Zheng and other leaders this morning and I fully agree with the speakers that the world is facing many complex transnational challenges, like terrorism, climate change and the spread of infectious diseases. And these are only issues that can be solved by countries cooperating within a multilateral framework, because both countries and their problems have become so interconnected and interdependent. All countries, big and small, rely on a stable global order on which we can cooperate productively, resolve disputes peacefully, and work together on new areas.
However, in many countries we see a strong pushback against globalisation, and growing distrust of public institutions and governments. And this has weakened the multilateral system, and made it harder for countries to work together, to find common solutions.
Against this backdrop, the Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes trade and connectivity, can play an important role to strengthen regional and multilateral cooperation. The BRI addresses the need of many countries for better infrastructure and connectivity. And better infrastructure will enhance trade and economic cooperation not just between other countries and China, but also with one another. And that is why Singapore, as an open economy and global hub, was an early and a strong supporter of the BRI.
Singapore’s participation in the BRI is focussed on four platforms, infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity, third party collaboration, and professional and legal services. As a financial centre, Singapore intermediates financial needs in Asia, including providing co-financing and risk management services for many BRI projects. According to the Chinese government statistics, Singapore accounts for 83% of total inbound investments to China from B&R countries, while about one-quarter of China’s outbound investments to B&R countries go through Singapore. Singapore is a neutral third party venue where BRI countries and companies can resolve commercial disputes quickly and efficiently. Our Mediation Centre, International Arbitration Centre, and International Commercial Court are all well-regarded internationally, and can complement existing institutions in China. We have the shortest resolution time worldwide for standardised commercial disputes and we hope we will be able to provide some of the sort of infrastructure to help pull some of the BRI projects together.
Singapore is also partnering with China to develop the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor under the Sino-Singapore Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI-ILSTC). The CCI is Singapore’s third G-to-G project with China. It strategically connects the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It enhances connectivity between Western China and Southeast Asia, and beyond Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. It will improve traditional connectivity through land and sea links. But the project goes beyond that to develop new connectivity on data, talent, technology and finance. CCI-ILSTC reduces the time for goods from Western China to reach Southeast Asia by two-thirds, and has improved the flow of trade data, private financial flows, and customs procedures as well. This is one tangible of the BRI initiative.
The BRI is an initiative of immense scale, diversity and potential. It is not possible to have a single formula for success, given the different conditions and context and needs in each partner country. But the CCI initiative is a constructive initiative that should benefit China and the world. Timely after six years to review progress and to discuss perspectives on the way forward. I look forward to discussions at the Leaders’ Roundtable.
Thank you very much.
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