US-China trade war the hot topic of ST Global Briefing

July 4, 2019

While a US-China deal might come in the coming months, the rivalry between the two giants is here to stay in the years to come, according to the panellists of The Straits Times Global Briefing held on July 3.

The half-day forum, attended by over 200 people, focused on the US-China Trade War and how it impacts Singapore and the world.

Dr Li Mingjiang, Associate Professor of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University; Ms Selena Ling, Head of Treasury Research and Strategy at OCBC Bank; and Ms Irene Tham, The Straits Times’ Tech Editor joined ST Foreign Editor Jeremy Au Yong on July 3 in discussing issues related to the economic conflict.

Said Associate Professor Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, “There is still very strong interest in China to reconcile with the US. They understand that it is premature for Beijing to confront and challenge the US,” adding that if current trade tensions continue, they will worsen every aspect of their bilateral ties.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping hit the pause button on their trade war to put off new tariffs on Chinese imports and agreed to resume discussions.

OCBC economist Ms Selena Ling observed that the trade war fallout has resulted in central banks cutting interest rates to cushion their economies. “This will reduce the probability that there will be a trade war-induced global recession,” she said.

As for Singapore, it could slide into a technical recession – which is defined by two consecutive quarters of slowdown – but she does not expect a full-year recession as yet.

While she expects a benign scenario of the two superpowers reaching a trade deal, she does not see any attractive investment opportunities for investors for the time being. “The reality is, there are no screaming buys at this juncture,” she added.

Prof Li, putting the story of China’s growth in perspective, argued that its economy will continue to grow regardless of its relationship with the US, that China has the capability domestically to move up the value chain in its manufacturing and high-tech sectors despite the US’ blockade, although it may take a longer time now.

The forum was organised by The Straits Times and sponsored by OCBC Premier Banking and OCBC Bank.

To see more highlights of the forum, visit www.straitstimes.com/tags/st-global-outlook-forum.

The main forum will take place on November 22 with more details to be shared in The Straits Times reports.