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Innovation, digital economy key areas for Singapore's Asean chairmanship: Hng Kiang

SINGAPORE'S economic objectives for 2018 are to deepen regional connectivity to position Asean as the region for increasingly seamless economic activity and growing opportunities, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang.

He was speaking at the 24th Asean Economic Ministers' Retreat on Thursday at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel. Singapore is taking over the chairmanship of Asean this year.

Some priorities for Singapore include strengthening Asean cohesion through continual alignment with the necessary work to progress the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, progress work on some long-standing initiatives that Asean has been pursuing, and positioning Asean for the next phase of growth, especially through innovation.

"Innovation and the digital economy are key areas that Singapore intends to pursue under Singapore's chairmanship. Singapore aims to promote innovation, build up digital connectivity, and facilitate e-commerce flows," he said.

By some estimates, the Asean digital economy has the potential to grow to US$200 billion by 2025, with e-commerce accounting for US$88 billion.

Singapore is also looking to enhance and update the trade architecture to ensure that trade and investment flows continue unhindered throughout the region, he added.

Aside from innovation and the digital economy, Singapore is also looking to improve trade facilitation, deepen services and investment integration, cultivate a conducive regulatory environment, and progress Asean's external relations.

"We envision these deliverables that Singapore intends to pursue through our Asean chairmanship in 2018 to bring about tangible benefits to our businesses and populations," said Mr Lim.