(Singapore) – The Council, during this year’s Singapore Business Mission, was among the first business groups to meet members of the Singapore cabinet following the cabinet reshuffle announced on April 23. This year’s business mission also celebrates the 15th anniversary of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement which first came into force January 1, 2004.
From May 7-9, the Council-led delegation of 18 leading U.S. firms met with the Government of Singapore to discuss key economic policy and connectivity goals after its 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship, with a focus on Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.
The delegation of U.S. firms expressed support for Singapore’s development of a strong digital infrastructure, enabling the goal outlined in its 2019 Budget of becoming a global node of Technology, Innovation and Enterprise.
“Innovation drives the future, not just of trade but of people everywhere,” Karl Cox, Chair of the Council’s Singapore Committee and Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Oracle said. “Empowered by technology, people can dedicate their time and ideas to more creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. Singapore clearly understands this, embracing the digital economy and preparing its workforce through investments in education and skills development, while attracting businesses that create jobs of the future. Singapore also recognizes the value of ongoing dialogue with business in addressing challenges and pursuing development opportunities. This year’s business mission exemplifies Singapore’s strong partnership and cooperation with US firms.”
Alexander C. Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, led the mission with Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council and Karl Cox, Chair of the Council’s Singapore Committee and Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Oracle.
“Every one of our over 160 member companies has a presence in Singapore, where many base their Asia Pacific and ASEAN headquarters,” said Alexander C. Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “Singapore’s focus on security, rule of law and intellectual property protection, along with a highly skilled labor pool, world-class infrastructure and commitment to connectivity help make Singapore an ideal base for American business. As the largest foreign investor in Singapore, U.S. businesses are a critical part of the Singapore success story and our business mission is an opportunity to engage the Singapore Government on Singapore's next phase of growth, including working with the Smart Nation initiative, the ASEAN Smart Cities initiative, and new agency Infrastructure Asia.”
The U.S. companies were reassured of the Government of Singapore’s commitment to shape policies enabling businesses to thrive amid global economic slowdown and trade uncertainties.
“The Council congratulates Singapore on its global and regional policy leadership in open and free trade, looking further beyond the straits and the Indo-Pacific region,” said Ambassador Michalak. “As home to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, Singapore has also helped to shape architecture on issues such as the APEC cross-border privacy rules. The country has also steered the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations and shown leadership in ASEAN, resulting in the conclusion of the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce. Furthermore, the country plays a pivotal role in the World Trade Organization as co-convener of the e-Commerce joint statement confirming WTO members’ intention to commence WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce.”
The delegation was received by senior government officials, including:
- Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan
- Minister for Trade and Industry, H.E. Chan Chun Sing
- Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defense, H.E. Ong Ye Kung
- Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, H.E. Lawrence Wong
- Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport & Ministry of Communications and Information, H.E. Dr Janil Puthucheary
- Senior Minister of State for Law and Senior Minister for Health H.E. Edwin Tong SC
- Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board Mr. Keith Tan
The delegation also met with APEC Secretariat Executive Director Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Sta Maria and U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Ms. Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath.
Companies participating in the mission included Adobe, Agoda, Airbnb, Amazon, BowerGroupAsia, Citi, FedEx, General Electric, HP Inc., IBM, JUUL, Kimberly-Clark, Mastercard, Oracle, Philip Morris International, Qualcomm, Salesforce, and Visa.