Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Community, Culture and Youth and Second Minister for Law at the Opening Session of the 2020 International Commercial and Legal Cooperation Forum
1 Dec 2020 Posted in [Speeches]
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Good morning.
- Thank you to CCPIT for inviting me to speak at the International Commercial & Legal Cooperation Forum again this year.
- It is a pity that we cannot meet in person in Changsha this year, but it is still good to be able to connect with friends and all of you online.
- The theme of the Forum is “New Pattern, New Cooperation, New Opportunities” (新格局、新合作、新机遇). I think it reflects the current situation we are in, and the way forward. We are in a “new pattern” – a new landscape, brought about by COVID-19. Because of this, the world should all the more “cooperate”, to save lives and livelihoods of our people. If we can strengthen our international cooperation, I am sure that we will uncover “new opportunities” and emerge stronger from this pandemic.
- I will elaborate on three areas.
- First, “New Pattern”.
- COVID-19 has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives, and the way we operate.
a. Social distancing, temperature screening and mask wearing have all become the norm in many places.
b. Some of us now work remotely from home.
c. We now cannot fly freely to wherever we want, with border controls in place in many countries and territories.
i.) Unfortunately, we are not able to hold the second edition of the China-Singapore International Commercial Dispute Resolution Conference this year,
ii.) But we certainly hope to be able to jointly organise one next year; and
iii.) Meet up again, either physically or virtually.
d. This Forum is also a good example of how things have changed.
- Fortunately, we are seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Life has returned to a more normal state in some countries like China and Singapore, after successfully controlling the virus. China’s GDP grew by 4.9% in the third quarter, and 0.7% on a year-on-year basis. Singapore is still experiencing negative growth in the third quarter, but has improved significantly from the second quarter. Singapore is able to turn a little corner, partly because we learn from other countries who unreservedly share their experiences and learning points with us, including China.
- This brings me to my second point on “New Cooperation”.
- COVID-19 has spread to more than 200 countries and regions, with devastating impact on the society and economy.
- We can better overcome a global challenge with global cooperation. As the Chinese saying goes, 一人难挑千斤担，众人能移万座山. The literal translation is: It is difficult for one man to carry a load of a thousand catties, but many can move thousands of mountains. This means that we can achieve more if we are united and work together.
- Singapore is committed to work with countries to minimise disruption from COVID-19, and facilitate economic recovery, including:
a. Keeping our supply chains and trade lines open, to support the flow of goods, especially essential supplies;
b. Removing export controls, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies;
c. Resuming essential cross-border travel, while balancing public health considerations;
d. These, and among other things
- I am glad that Singapore and China have:
a. Committed to “continue support for globalisation and global supply chains”.
b. In fact, both Singapore and China have committed to the Joint Ministerial Statement Affirming Commitment to Ensuring Supply Chain Connectivity amidst COVID-19;
c. I am confident that the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would strengthen not only the bilateral partnership between Singapore and China, but with all the partners involved.
- The cooperation between our two countries goes some way back.
a. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic ties.
b. In the congratulatory messages exchanged by our leaders, both sides have expressed wishes to deepen cooperation and strengthen relations.
- Singapore and China enjoy strong and multi-faceted cooperation today at all levels – between our government, institutions, businesses and people. In spite of COVID-19, our three government-to-government projects continue to do well. Our Singapore companies also retain high interest in the Chinese market.
a. In the area of intellectual property and dispute resolution, recent new cooperation includes:
i.) An agreement between the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and China’s Capital Intellectual Property Services Association in October, to partner and provide collaboration opportunities for IP firms, enterprises, research institutions and universities from Singapore, ASEAN and China. We jointly organise seminars and training programmes to promote and increase knowledge and capabilities in IP protection, commercialisation and management for enterprises in the region.
ii.) An MOU between the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA) in June, to offer a mediation-arbitration service, where SIMC’s mediated settlement agreement may be recorded as an SCIA arbitral award.
iii.) An MOU between the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration and the Guangzhou Arbitration Commission (GZAC) in August; and
iv.) Just yesterday (30 November 2020), an MOU between the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Hainan International Arbitration Court, to jointly promote arbitration.
- There is room to further strengthen our international and bilateral cooperation, including in the commercial and legal areas.
- In this uncertain economic climate, our businesses need even more certainty and stability, so that:
a. They know that their investments will be safe; and
b. If there is any dispute, it will be resolved fairly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
- To provide our businesses with confidence, we can work together to:
a. First, strengthen the rule of law and legal systems.
b. Second, uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system, and explore the possibility of a set of common commercial rules for businesses in Singapore, China and beyond; and
c. And third, to promote the Singapore Convention on Mediation, which has entered into force on 12 September 2020. The Singapore Convention provides a more effective means for mediated settlement agreements to be enforced across borders. With the Convention, businesses can have greater assurance that mediation can be relied on to settle cross-border commercial disputes. As of November 2020, 53 countries have signed, including China, and 6 countries have ratified.
- We look forward to working closely with all of you.
- Let me conclude in Mandarin.
- 新型肺炎的出现， 不但改变了世界格局，也改写了市场格局。不过，我相信，在种种挑战与困难中，也会有新的合作契机，利于促进彼此间的合作。
Last updated on 1 Dec 2020