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(Bloomberg) — At the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng emphasized the importance of enhancing ties with the U.S., while Saudi Arabia’s Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih announced plans for a peace summit in the Middle East. Geopolitics took center stage during the discussions.
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The forum highlighted the economic prospects of China and the need to reduce global tensions. Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan cautioned against brewing disputes in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
Other notable participants in the three-day event included Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel, and Sergio Ermotti, recently appointed as CEO of UBS Group AG. Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC Holdings Plc, warned that global efforts to rebuild supply chains could lead to increased inflation and unrest. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will deliver a speech in the evening.
Singapore raises concerns (10:05am SGT)
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan expressed his worry about a “moment of danger” due to conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, as well as potential triggers for conflict in Taiwan and the South China Sea. He also mentioned the familiar actors involved in these territorial disputes. “I’m very uneasy,” he said. “I don’t want to be overly concerned, but the last time we had a global-scale conflict like World War I was indeed World War I. So this is a crucial moment.” Moreover, Balakrishnan voiced concerns about the impact on oil prices in the event of an escalation of the Gaza conflict.
Just-in-Time Limit (9:50 AM SGT)
Referring to geopolitical factors, HSBC CEO Noel Quinn identified four elements that will reshape global supply chains: post-Covid resilience, innovation in technology and energy supply, and China’s shift from manufacturing and exports to domestic consumption. He stated that these factors will lead to significant changes, though the move to onshore just-in-time supply chains might be hindered by economic realities. Quinn believes that the world cannot afford the consequences of rewiring every supply chain, including social unrest, higher interest rates, and lower economic growth.
China needs to take further action (9:30 am SGT)
Fred Hu, CEO of Chinese investment firm Primavera Capital, urged China to take additional measures to combat its economic slowdown. Although President Xi Jinping’s government has recently made efforts to support private companies, Hu believes that more needs to be done to boost consumer and investor confidence. However, Beijing’s promises have been met with skepticism, leading to doubts about actual policy support from foreign business groups.
In a separate interview, Yuzo Kano, CEO of Japanese crypto exchange BitFlyer Holdings, praised Hong Kong as a favorable place for digital assets, stating, “I’m interested in Hong Kong – they’re welcoming to Web3 companies.” Kano pointed out that Hong Kong has created a regulatory framework for virtual assets in an attempt to regain its status as a cutting-edge financial hub.
Saudi Arabia’s perspective on the Middle East crisis (9:15 am SGT)
Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s representative, commended the improvement in U.S.-Chinese relations but highlighted the heightened crisis this year. He expressed sadness over the loss of life and property in Gaza and Israel. Al-Falih emphasized the need to address the Palestinian issue and announced Saudi Arabia’s intention to hold a summit aiming for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He also mentioned that the normalization of relations with Israel is dependent on progress towards a peaceful resolution. The recent attack by the Gaza-based Hamas group has raised concerns over civilian casualties.
China reaffirms commitment to opening-up (8:50am SGT)
Vice President Han, speaking shortly before the expected meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, expressed optimism about the high-level meetings between the two countries and their potential to improve relations. Han cautioned against protectionism and trends aimed at reducing risks. He stressed that China remains committed to opening up and that the world is large enough for both countries to cooperate. Han also noted that while China’s economy is recovering overall, the global economic recovery still lacks momentum.
Templeton’s view on China (8:15 am SGT)
Manraj Sekhon, Chief Investment Officer of Templeton Global Equity Investments, believes that an upcoming meeting between the leaders of the U.S. and China could provide an opportunity for weaker Chinese stocks to rebound. He mentioned the possibility of a meeting between President Biden and President Xi in San Francisco. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her Chinese counterpart are also scheduled to hold talks, paving the way for more normalized relations between the world’s two largest economies.
In addition, the NEF will address climate change, featuring discussions with U.S. Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, as well as representatives from insurers and at-risk countries like the Maldives.
Tensions surrounding climate change are increasing ahead of the COP28 summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates, with debates over emissions from developing countries and contribution to a fund aimed at addressing the losses and damages caused by climate change.
The New Economy Forum is organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
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