'We shouldn't have to wait till 2020 to see clear blue skies': Vivian Balakrishnan

Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that regional leaders had endorsed the vision of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.
Channel NewsAsia 7 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: As ASEAN becomes more integrated, member nations must join hands to tackle transboundary challenges, such as the perennial haze, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said at the end of the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (Apr 7).

“Quite frankly, as the former Minister for the Environment, I don’t see why we have to wait till 2020 to see clear blue skies,” he said, noting that leaders have endorsed the vision of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.

Just last month, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said that last year's haze episode – caused by forest fires in Indonesia and exacerbated by a severe El Nino effect – cost Singapore an estimated S$700 million of losses.

Dr Balakrishnan also said that Singapore wants to do more with the Indonesian government and other interested stakeholders, “to promote sustainable agricultural practices, to strengthen our response to forest fires, and to hold errant companies responsible for the fires that they start, or allow to occur on their concession areas”.

Besides cooperation within ASEAN – with respect to transboundary haze, and the ASEAN Economic Community – the Foreign Affairs Minister said that Singapore must continue to be plugged into regional and international trade groupings that will open doors for our people and businesses.

Some of these include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement – two trade deals Singapore hopes will be ratified soon, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

He also touched on the importance of economic cooperation with key partners, noting that Singapore – despite its small size – is the largest foreign investor to China and Indonesia.

- CNA/ll

No comments:

Post a Comment