Singapore and the United States have been close partners in support of the rules-based economic and security order within our region since our independence. A recent example of how we have assisted in the area of security is our offer of military planes to help with evacuation efforts in Afghanistan last August.
Economy wise, the United States remains by far consistently the largest foreign investor in Singapore. The United States is also Singapore’s top trading partner in services, and Singapore’s third largest partner in merchandise trade.
The most recent development is on the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework put forward by the Biden administration. While still light on details, a White House factsheet on the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States gives us insights on the areas of engagement, including labour and environmental standards, a new digital economy framework, building resilient and secure supply chains, and making shared investments in decarbonisation and clean energy. If actualised, the plan presents significant opportunities for Singapore.
However, with the said opportunities come risks. One that comes to mind is the question of US commitment. The domestic political atmosphere in the United States is one that is sceptical of trade and other economic deals that are perceived to place American businesses and workers at a disadvantage. Such conditions are apparent across the political spectrum. This could affect the degree of US commitment to the framework.
There may also be concerns from Beijing that Singapore may be cooperating in an effort that undermines Chinese interests. Such considerations may be especially important given the current heightened levels of suspicion and competition between the U.S. and China.
Beyond navigating ties between the U.S. and China, how will Singapore balance joining the framework and fit with various other economic arrangements which Singapore is currently committed to?
I would like to ask the minister how does Singapore plan to engage with the United States under the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.