On 13 June 2022, Singapore and China committed to jointly boosting the development of their green and digital economies by signing two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on the sidelines of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The MOUs are not available to the public. However, based on the press release issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore, specifically in relation to sustainability, Singapore and China aim to deepen their “bilateral cooperation in the green economy by policy sharing and business cooperation in areas such as renewable energy, green building, green finance, as well as water and waste management”. Cooperation in related technologies will also be enhanced – businesses in the relevant sectors being encouraged to carry out joint research and development activities and jointly promote low-carbon technological innovations.
Following the signing of these MOUs, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and China’s Ministry of Commerce will also establish working groups to see through their implementation.
This is by no means the first time that these two economies have joined forces to explore joint development opportunities in the sustainability space:
- At the ministerial level, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment of Singapore regularly host environmental policy dialogues to exchange updates and views on environmental policies. These meetings started in 2015 and formalized a joint paper on enhancing environmental cooperation in the post-Covid 19 era in December 2020.
- At the Deputy PM / Vice Premier level, the most recent JCBC (Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, the highest-level annual forum between the two countries) saw 14 MOUs signed covering topics including green and low-carbon development.
- At the highest governmental level, the two sides also issued a joint statement in November 2018 following Chinese Premier Li’s visit to Singapore. This declaration highlighted the nations’ cooperation in environmental protection and green development.
MOUs are high-level in nature and it remains to be seen how the principles in these MOUs will be fleshed out and executed by the biggest economy in Asia and the economy with highest GDP per capita in the region. For example, what would be the expected level of policy sharing envisioned by the respective regulators and would it prompt China to increase compatibility between the local policies or standards with the regional or international ones?
Our ESG teams in both China and Singapore will continue to watch for new developments in this space as the resulting initiatives will have an impact well-beyond the borders of these markets alone.
(Thanks to Eleanore Gao for support in writing this article)