Singapore, trade, and globalisation in the Trump Era

Jan 22, 2017 08.45AM |

PRESIDENT Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent congratulatory letters to United States President Donald Trump on his inauguration, emphasising bilateral ties and the longstanding trade relationship between Singapore and the United States. Yet Mr Trump’s first executive move to withdraw his country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP – a trade agreement with the 12 Pacific Rim countries, representing about 40 per cent of global GDP – and the strong focus in his inauguration speech on putting America first will have broader implications for free trade arrangements and globalisation, both of which Singapore remains dependent upon.

“From his day onward, it’s going to be only America first,” Mr Trump said. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Singapore is one of the biggest trading nations in the world, and Ambassador-at-Large Ong Keng Yong too highlighted the immediate loss of the TPP. On the other hand China and its President Xi Jinping – the first Chinese head of state to address the World Economic Forum – have emerged as champions of global trade and globalisation, and have argued against the growing protectionism of the West. In this vein, it will also shape economic integration in Asia. Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that free trade has been important for the world, and with these changes around the world Singapore, as a small country, “will have to adapt to the environment”.

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In other news, closer to home, Mr Shanmugam said that penalties for irresponsible drivers will be toughened. “If you have destroyed people’s lives… there must be some responsibility,” and he added that “It’s not just a question of being fined, going into jail, coming out after a few months.” There were on average 11 fatal accidents each month in the first three quarters of 2016, and an average of 700 traffic accidents each month, though traffic incidents – often captured by in-car cameras or devices – are making more frequent rounds across social media platforms, hosted by different groups.

And finally, if you are planning to donate items to charities over this festive season, be sure to check that they are not mouldy, soiled, or even crawling with maggots. Charities and thrift shops interviewed by ST revealed that they discard up to 40 per cent of the in-kind donations they receive. Some items may have expired years or decades ago, and even half-eaten or used items – which could contaminate other donations – have been found. Not only do the organisations allocate more time and effort to sieve through or inspect these donations, they also have had to change the ways or the frequencies of these collection drives. New collection strategies include awareness campaigns or wish-lists for beneficiaries.



Featured image from TMG file.

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