Trade protectionism can destabilise world: PM Lee
PUBLISHED ON 20 Apr 2018
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has stressed that protectionism will damage the multi-lateral system of trade and investments and result in rivalry between great powers which can destabilise the world. Addressing the leaders of 53 Commonwealth states during an executive session focused on free trade on 19 April 2018 (Thursday) in London, PM Lee said such discussions which encourage free trade is timely – given the potential trade war brewing between the United States and China.

PM Lee added that such actions bring about distrust and rivalry, which further incites tit-for-tat actions. Hence, a multilateral approach is ideal, as it spells out a uniform and universal rule of trade which addresses the benefits and concerns of participating countries, pointed out PM Lee.

He added that it is also important for like-minded countries, like those in the Commonwealth, to work together to promote trade and investment. “Even before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established, there was a system of 'imperial preferences' amongst Commonwealth countries," PM Lee noted. “Commonwealth countries should make the most of this shared outlook to promote trade among ourselves," he added.

Separately in a Facebook post, PM Lee shared that he had written an op-ed for the Washington Post on the trade frictions between the US and China. In the article, PM Lee highlighted the areas of concern and how a trade war will gravely undermine the rules-based multilateral system that has underpinned global prosperity since the end of World War II. He said: “Competition between the United States and China is to be expected. But whether this competition takes place within a framework of interdependence and generally accepted international rules makes all the difference. Ultimately, what is at stake is war and peace, and the security and stability of the world.”