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PM Lee Hsien Loong yearns for G20 nations to improve WTO, MDBs

Updating will keep up with the digital transformation and modern economy.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged G20 nations to spearhead comprehensive reforms within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) during a recent international conference. 

The Singaporean leader emphasised the pivotal role these institutions play in fostering global growth, resilience, and sustainability, asserting that revitalizing their mandates and rules is crucial in the current era.

Prime Minister Loong underscored the pressing need to rejuvenate the WTO, emphasising its role as the linchpin of a rules-based multilateral trading system that underpins global economic prosperity.

 “The WTO remains the best guarantor of common growth, as well as effective and resilient supply chains,” he affirmed. 

However, he also stressed the necessity of updating the WTO’s rules to keep pace with the digital transformation and modern economy while supporting collective food and energy security. Of particular importance was the swift restoration of a fully functioning dispute settlement system to ensure the effective enforcement of international trade agreements.

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Switching focus to the international financial architecture, Prime Minister Loong urged concerted efforts to reform MDBs to support sustainable development and protect the Global Commons. 

Singapore, he revealed, firmly supports the Indian Presidency’s initiatives to investigate the reforms of MDBs. He eagerly anticipated the forthcoming Volume 2 report by the G20 Independent Expert Group on Strengthening MDBs.

Recognising the enormity of financing needs, Prime Minister Loong stressed the importance of making more efficient use of MDBs’ balance sheets while also fostering innovative approaches to mobilise development funding from the private sector. 

He called for global cooperation, emphasizing that the G20’s leadership in reinvigorating multilateralism is vital in tackling contemporary development challenges.

In closing, Prime Minister Loong extended gratitude to India for hosting the conference, praising its successful presidency, and wished Brazil success as it prepares to take over the G20 presidency next year. 

He reiterated Singapore’s commitment to contributing to international efforts and concluded, “We will need all hands on deck.”


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