Closing Remarks by Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Law, Han Kok Juan, at the Forum on Belt and Road Legal Cooperation in Beijing
3 Jul 2018 Posted in Speeches
Mr. Ang Vong Vathana, Minister of Justice of Cambodia,
Mr. Valeri Mitskevich, Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus,
Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China,
Mr. Chen Jiping, Executive Vice-Chairman of China Law Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join all of you here today for the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation. This forum brings together many distinguished government officials and legal experts from around the world. I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the China Law Society for their invitation and warm hospitality and to offer my most sincere congratulations for a well-organised forum.
Over these two days, I have listened intently to each presentation and panel discussion; they have given me much food for thought. Let me take this opportunity to share six personal reflections.
First, globalisation has brought growth and improved lives. A trade war, if one breaks out, will gravely undermine the rules-based multilateral system that has underpinned global prosperity. Countries around the world, big or small, will be hurt. It is more important now than ever that we come together, to signal our unwavering commitment to globalisation and to say “no” to protectionism.
Second, growth has to be inclusive to be sustainable. To achieve inclusive and sustainable growth, legal development must underpin economic development. Rule of law facilitates trade and investment. It provides for a transparent and stable business environment, where investments are protected, contracts are enforced, and disputes are fairly and efficiently resolved. When we open our doors, we encourage local businesses to go out and foreign businesses to enter. When we have rule of law, they have the confidence to do so.
Third, set up to strengthen trade and investment ties and enhance integration and interdependence, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the anti-thesis of protectionism and isolationism. In the last five years, the BRI has connected governments and businesses and facilitated trade and investment. To resist protectionism and isolationism, we can work together, to push on with the BRI and take it to the next level.
Fourth, to take the BRI to the next level, the BRI will benefit from having a legal framework that will help provide clarity and certainty amongst project participants and resolve commercial disputes when they occur. As BRI projects involve cross-border, high-value, long-term investments, occasional commercial disputes are sometimes unavoidable. When they arise, there is no need for finger-pointing and incessant arguments. What parties need is a mechanism for the disputes to be fairly and efficiently resolved. Businesses can then move on. Business is business; no one wishes for a commercial dispute to affect bilateral relations or become distractions to the BRI’s development.
Fifth, for this dispute resolution mechanism to be effective, it has to be trusted, its rules have to be professional, fair and transparent, and its administrator has to be neutral and enjoys international credibility. Our end goal should not be just to resolve particular disputes for particular companies, but to build a dispute resolution mechanism which will help strengthen investor confidence and boost BRI’s further growth.
Sixth, Singapore can work with China and other BRI countries to develop a dispute resolution mechanism to support BRI’s further development. China and Singapore are old friends. China’s investments in Singapore alone amount to about one-third of its total investments in Belt and Road countries, while Singapore’s investments in China accounted for 85 per cent of total inbound investments from Belt and Road countries. When Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met in September last year and April this year, they agreed that legal and judicial cooperation will be a new area of collaboration between the two countries. Singapore has some expertise in legal services, including in dispute resolution. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) handle many high-value, cross-border cases. They are international in character and are well regarded. Majority of businesses who use them have no connection whatsoever with Singapore, but choose them because they are neutral and trusted.
Finally, I would like to once again express my gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the China Law Society for their warm hospitality and to offer my most sincere congratulations to them for a well-organised forum. I have made many friends here. Let’s stay in touch and continue to work together to advance the BRI and to support trade and investment. Thank you.
Last updated on 22 Jul 2018