As a small but vibrant trading nation, Singapore strongly supports an open, rules-based multilateral trading system embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has fostered the world’s growth and prosperity since it was established on 1 January 1995. Singapore has been an active and constructive member of the WTO since its inception. We hosted the 1st WTO Ministerial Conference in December 1996.
WTO rules have served us well, but together with the international community, we should continue to update them, so that the WTO rulebook remains relevant for the modern economy, and can better address the changing global context to ensure that our people continue to benefit from economic globalisation. Amidst the uncertain global economic climate, strengthening the WTO to ensure its relevance and to resist protectionism is vital for a stable framework for economic growth and sustainable development.
Singapore, together with co-conveners Australia and Japan, launched the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Electronic Commerce in December 2017 at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prompted by a recognition of the opportunities and challenges faced by developing countries and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in relation to electronic commerce, the JSI outlines members’ intention to develop rules on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce. In January 2019, at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Singapore, Australia and Japan rallied 74 other economies to kick-start negotiations for rules governing e-commerce. To-date, 80 WTO members have signed on to the JSI.
Against the backdrop of rising trade tensions, Singapore has highlighted our views that unilateral measures and trade wars will not only negatively impact the countries concerned but have repercussions on global development and growth. As a small country heavily reliant on trade, Singapore continues to urge that an accommodation be found to head off an escalation of trade disputes. In addition, Singapore has expressed our concerns over the impasse at the Appellate Body. We are working with other WTO members to seek the cooperation of all members to ensure that it will continue to function. The WTO dispute settlement mechanism is an important feature of the WTO.
More information about the WTO can be found at its official website.