What on earth is Singapore doing at G20?


The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies of the world. Collectively, the G20 economies account for 80% of the world trade.

Singapore is not a member of the G20. The amount of trade in proportion with these countries is far too minute, why did we get an invite? This year’s invitation is under the pretext of a partner country to the G20 process, alongside the Netherlands and Norway.

Invitation is seen as a form of outreach to increase the legitimacy of the G20, attributed to concerns about the G20’s limited and contentious membership. Former guests in the past include Benin, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Spain is a “permanent guest”.

In short, invitees attendance lends legitimacy to the conference as it presents representation of various countries; rich, poor, big and small.

For Singapore, it will be a good chance to reinforce ties, especially with these three key countries:

During the trip, PM Lee will be meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin ahead of his attendance. He will be hosted to lunch by Chancellor Merkel, where both leaders will discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation as well as issues of mutual interest.

PM Lee and Chinese President Xi Jinping have affirmed the two countries’ substantive bilateral relationship, frequent high-level exchanges and good progress made in bilateral cooperation.

During their meeting in Hamburg, PM Lee congratulated President Xi on the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework.

Both leaders discussed how Singapore could work with China to implement the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, including the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, which has achieved good progress in financial services and aviation connectivity. They agreed that it was important to promote closer economic integration through the expeditious conclusion of the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement upgrade.

American President Donald Trump and PM Lee will meet on the sidelines of the G20. This would be their first face-to-face encounter, after holding two telephone conversations on Dec 2, 2016 and Apr 30, 2017.

The newly elected President is seen to be hostile to initiatives that are perceived to take trade away from the U.S. The Trans Pacific Partnership had been made defunct following his appoint meant to office.



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