Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has joined his counterparts in Canada, Australia and Indonesia in making a joint plea calling for an end to the ongoing US-China trade war.

Mr Heng, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister and first assistant secretary-general of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), is widely expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as Singapore’s fourth head of government after the next general election.

In a joint statement published by The Australian today (13 Sept), the four Finance Ministers of Singapore, Canada, Australia and Indonesia called for an end to the trade war which has been impacting the global markets and impeding economic growth worldwide.

Asserting that the trade war has put the post-war multilateral system under threat, the statement said: “While we acknowledge that there are legitimate issues that must be addressed, the risks of collateral damage are growing. We have a responsibility to safeguard the institutions that have led to our shared economic success.”

Noting that the trade dispute has affected the economies of Singapore, Canada, Australia and Indonesia, the finance chiefs said: “Uncertainty over the outlook is contributing to a slowdown in trade and manufacturing activity.

“We have seen a return of financial market volatility, currency instability and decreased capital flows to emerging economies. Dampened global trade conditions are affecting investor confidence, business investment and produc­tivity. Growth has slowed and risks remain tilted to the downside.”

Calling on the Group of 20 (G-20) economies to take a greater role in countering the trade war and prepare for worsening consequences, the statement said: “Harking back to its origins in the global financial crisis, the G-20 needs to continue to build mutual understanding and cooperation so it can uphold and support multilateral problem-solving in the event of another economic crisis.”

The statement comes as the US and China prepare for the next round of high-level talks in Washington. This week, for the first time since the trade dispute began, China waived import tariffs on more than a dozen US goods.

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The US, in the meantime, are said to be discussing a limited trade agreement offer to China that would delay and roll back certain US tariffs in exchange for China’s commitments on intellectual property and agricultural purchases. -/TISG