We can weather the US-China trade war: DPM Heng, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

We can weather the US-China trade war: DPM Heng

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Singapore is prepared for the negative consequences of the Sino-US trade war, but it must transform its economy at an "even faster pace" if it is to deal with the fallout, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

Speaking to Singapore reporters in Shenzhen as he wrapped up his visit to China, Mr Heng said the trade war would have a very negative impact on both the regional and global economies, and though Singapore could weather the storm, it was "not an issue that can be resolved immediately".

"The main thing that we must do is to ensure that we transform our economy at an even faster pace, because besides the trade war, we are also going to be faced with very rapid changes in technology," he said.

"This is of utmost importance, and we must focus our minds and our energies on this. I hope that corporate leaders will take this very seriously - this is also an opportunity to turn adversity into strength."

His comments come as the Singapore economy feels the effects of escalating trade tensions between China and the United States.

Singapore's first-quarter growth was slower than forecast, prompting the Ministry of Trade and Industry to revise its full-year growth forecast downwards.

Mr Heng's eight-day visit, which ended yesterday, was his first to China since becoming Deputy Prime Minister earlier this month.

He met top Chinese leaders in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province, including Premier Li Keqiang and Vice-Premier Han Zheng.

Mr Heng said one thing that struck him from his meetings with the Chinese leaders was that they take a long-term view, focusing on key areas and priorities.

He also had discussions on how to take the bilateral relationship forward in the next five to 10 years, he added.

Chinese leaders expressed appreciation for the bilateral cooperation that had taken place over the years, he said, noting that "at every stage, we have been able to look at projects which are beneficial to both sides".

Mr Heng is scheduled to fly to Tokyo today to attend the 25th Nikkei Conference.