SINGAPORE: Singapore will have to adopt a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the trade policies under the new US administration and adapt accordingly, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Saturday (Jan 21).
His response came after the White House indicated that the US will pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and instead commit to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Newly sworn-in President Donald Trump also struck a protectionist note in his inauguration speech with a call to "buy American and hire American".
While Singapore believes that free trade is in everyone's interest, “every country designs for itself what it thinks is in its best interest”, said Mr Shanmugam on the sidelines of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building to house the Automobile Association of Singapore (AA Singapore).
"We'll have to wait to see what measures are implemented,” he added, while noting that Singapore as a small country “will have to adapt”.
“We see what measures are taken, what steps are taken and we will see how it impacts us then we adapt,” he said.
Asked about Singapore’s leadership renewal, Mr Shanmugam said the next prime minister will continue to face challenges in an ever-changing world and will need to have the “iron in him”, citing a quote from the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
"He has got to lead the people. This is not a game of cards; it's everybody's lives,” he said. “The prime minister needs to have that courage, the steel, the iron, the ability to lead, ability to connect with people, the foresight and manage a team of people … and look at what's happening, take pre-emptive action so that we always land on our feet and we succeed."