Glad to be home from the ASEM Summit!
For more than 70 years, since WWII, multilateralism has been an important basis for international cooperation. But this framework is under severe stress. Some countries are resorting to unilateral actions, and even explicitly repudiating multilateral approaches and institutions.
We can’t go back to the old days, but we can’t do away with multilateralism either. In the plenary session, I spoke about the need to update and strengthen WTO rules. The rules must deal with new issues like technology transfer and e-commerce. They must also reflect the changed balance in the world economy, to be seen as fair and politically sustainable.
Glad that many Asian and European countries have affirmed their commitment to multilateralism, through words and deeds. Some countries are liberalising their economies and reforming outdated practices. Several are working on major regional FTAs, e.g. the RCEP and the CPTPP.
At the EU-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting, we discussed ways to strengthen the relationship. We are close to an ambitious EU-ASEAN Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, which will enhance connectivity between our two regions. We are also exploring resuming negotiations for an ASEAN-EU FTA.
As a small country, Singapore feels more acutely than most the need for a strong multilateral system, but it actually benefits all countries big and small. We will continue to work with like-minded partners to strengthen multilateralism, and grow and prosper in peace together. – LHL ([1, 2, 4] MCI Photos by Chwee;  MFA Photo)