Singapore—At the 19th Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned of the global effects of the trade war between the two biggest economies in the world, saying that it would not only hurt China and the United States, but would negatively impact the rest of the world.
During a conversation with the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media, Steve Ford, PM Lee said that trade tensions between the US and China “means that much less prosperity for the two countries, and that much less buoyancy for the rest of the world.”
Investors and consumers all around the globe have had to deal with an extra layer of uncertainty because of it, he added.
PM Lee said that US-China trade tensions mean “fewer opportunities for our companies to invest in China and export to America, or to invest in America and do business with China. And these are all win-win opportunities, which is the essence of what international trade is, and it is how the world has prospered for many decades.”
The Prime Minister spoke on Wednesday, October 16, the second and final day of the conference, wherein around 400 CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs, and tycoons from all around the world have gathered. The theme of this year’s conference is “Transcending the Turbulence.”
Forbes reports that a number of issues were discussed at the conference, including the rising incidence of populism, issues in global trade, increasing economic uncertainty and disruption due to new technologies.
Among the speakers at this year’s conference were Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Liverpool FC Chief Executive Officer Peter Moore, Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling, Razer co-founder and CEO Tan Min-Liang, and others.
Due to its heavily trade-reliant economy, Singapore is seen as a bellwether for global trade, and its economy has slowed because of the tensions between two of the country’s biggest partners in trade. After losses in 2Q 2019, it saw a growth of 0.1 percent for the third quarter.
During the dialogue which ended the conference, PM Lee mentioned the significance of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), through which the country is seeking lower tariffs and wider access to regional markets.
He said, “We have dropped only a few articles that were primarily of concern to the Americans, but the rest of the countries are going ahead. And one day, the Chinese may be interested in joining the CPTPP.”
The Prime Minister also talked about how important it is for Singapore to achieve balance in immigration in that the country’s growth would continue. “If we could open our doors, we could double our population overnight, and that would not be a wise idea,” Lee said.
He added that Singapore has even able, unlike some of its neighbors such as Hong Kong, to provide citizens with adequate housing. “We believe in Singapore that it’s very important for every household to own their own home because it gives them a stake, it gives them a sense of permanence,” he told the conference attendees./ TISG