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Media Note: Emerging Stronger from the Pandemic

18 May Media Note: Emerging Stronger from the Pandemic

Media Note

Emerging Stronger from the Pandemic
Growth Areas in Digitalisation and Sustainability as well as Regional Partnerships Key for Singapore’s Recovery

Singapore, Tuesday, 18 May 2021 – As Singapore begins its month-long heightened restrictions to tackle the spike in COVID-19 cases, it is important for the country to remain connected with the region, even though it might be instinctive to turn inwards. 

“Recommendations from the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST) begin with Singapore but there is every need to strengthen international partnerships, especially with our ASEAN neighbours”, according to Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. “Singapore has a vested interest in contributing to ASEAN’s collective recovery, not only for humanitarian reasons, but for pragmatic ones. This can cement Singapore’s role as a trusted and preferred partner in the region. We should strengthen capabilities, social understanding and commitment for this.”

There are other growth areas including digitalisation and sustainability, as pointed out by the SIIA’s deputy directors. 

“While borders remain closed, the digital space has immense potential to grow, and Singapore’s move to forge digital partnerships with other countries through Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) and other bilateral cooperation provides opportunities for businesses, particularly SMEs and MSMEs, to scale up”, Ms. Jessica Wa’u, Deputy Director (ASEAN). 

Amidst growing global momentum towards a green recovery from the pandemic, Singapore can make a big contribution in establishing carbon markets in the region. Ms. Meixi Gan, Deputy Director (Sustainability), said, “Some ASEAN countries are already looking to develop national carbon pricing and trading systems, although verification and assurance will remain challenging. Singapore, with its reputation for good governance, can add value to deepening these efforts, including developing ways to link or align the different emerging schemes. This could be beneficial to all by increasing market liquidity and minimising carbon leakage within the region.”

Beyond carbon markets, Prof Tay added that Singapore’s ongoing sustainability efforts can serve as a basis for international partnerships. “Singapore can assist other ASEAN economies in their transition towards a low-carbon future, leveraging our capabilities in finance, technology, training, and know-how. The push to promote sustainability has potential for a far greater breadth of opportunities for our businesses and people.”  



The SIIA is knowledge partner to the EST. Through its New Horizons series, the SIIA convened a series of roundtable dialogues with business leaders. Inputs from the series of roundtables were submitted confidentially to the EST.

The SIIA is able to comment on the recommendations released by the EST in its 118-page report released on 17 May 2021.

  • Overall EST recommendations – Associate Professor Tay, Chairman of the SIIA, is concurrently Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore where he pioneered teaching on international environmental law.
  • Digitalisation – Ms. Jessica Wa’u, Deputy Director (ASEAN)
  • Sustainability – Ms. Meixi Gan, Deputy Director (Sustainability)



For interviews and further comment, please contact the SIIA

Media Contact
Email: [email protected]

About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Established in 1962, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is a non-profit and independent think tank committed to producing policy analysis, fostering in-depth dialogues and bridging gaps between policymakers, private sector decision-makers and experts to shape public policy and social responses. Centred around ASEAN focused themes, the institute aims to deliver policy analysis in international affairs and on issues driving environmental sustainability. The SIIA has been consistently ranked as one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go-To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2017, the SIIA was ranked the No. 1 independent think tank in Asia. It was also recognised as one of the top 50 think tanks globally, excluding the United States of America. In 2019, it was recognised as the No. 1 think tank in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (excluding India). In 2020, it was also recognised as one of the think tanks with the best policy and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.