S’pore can be bridge for financial institutions to serve Asia

14 October 2014

Source: Channel News Asia (Singapore)
Source type: TV
Published on: 04 Oct 2010

BRUSSELS: Singapore's Minister in the Prime Minister Office, Lim Hwee Hua, has said the country could be a bridge for financial institutions to serve a booming Asia.

Mr Lee had to cut short his trip in the Belgian capital upon news of his mother's death.

Despite his absence, the message was not any less clear, with a call for governments of Asia and Europe to work together for a sustained economic recovery.

Mrs Lim said that the best approach was to stay vigilant, compare notes regularly and to maintain a healthy scepticism - that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

She added that Europe and Asia have complementary needs.

European financial institutions can gain from Asia's growth and facilitate the development of Asian capital markets.

Mrs Lim said that private equity firms and venture capitalists can invest in new growth sectors and encourage corporate restructuring.

She also called on European financial institutions (FIs) to make Singapore a regional platform for banking services.

She said: "We are a natural base for FIs to serve a booming Asia. We are already home to many international, including European, banks and we have created a vibrant banking scene, with a rich array of innovative products and more discriminating pricing models."

Beyond that, she said the focus must be on real economies and take into account strong feelings on the ground, as seen in recent demonstrations in Europe over austerity measures.

Mrs Lim said: "Governments are under tremendous pressure to shore up growth, create jobs and improve livelihoods and at the same time to reduce budget deficits."

The hope is that governments will take the necessary steps to sustain economic growth for the long term.

Mrs Lim said: "More developed economies cannot compete in making basic goods like clothing and candles no matter what the exchange rate."

There was also a strong call for free trade and a renewed effort towards economic integration.

Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Steven Vanackere echoed this.

He said: "Did you notice that 12 countries assisting in this ASEM Summit are G20 at the same time; if we would perchance come to some higher level of consensus, already 12 of the G20 members would have agreed upon some progress.

"The world really desperately needs a framework that supports financial stability, albeit without stifling economic growth and innovation."

Since 1996, the Asia Europe Business Forum has contributed to closer relations for businesses between the regions. Much of the discussion and recommendations at this meeting will be presented to leaders at their meeting on Tuesday. The thrust is in creating a pro-business environment against the backdrop of a new global financial landscape.