LEE YEN NEE Today Online 24 Oct 16;
SINGAPORE — The Republic has joined the International Energy Agency (IEA) as an association country, following in the footsteps of China, Thailand and Indonesia, in a move that will help keep Singapore at the forefront of energy sector developments.
“As we continue to develop initiatives and policies that enhance Singapore’s domestic energy market, international energy cooperation is critical in our efforts to learn from best practices and to ensure energy security and sustainability. International energy organisations such as the IEA play a central role in facilitating such cooperation,” Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said on Monday (Oct 24) at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week.
“Becoming an association country is a natural extension of Singapore’s already close collaboration with the IEA. It will allow us to further participate in the global energy dialogue, and keep abreast of new technical developments in the energy sector,” he added.
Singapore can also partner the IEA to build capabilities in the region, starting with two new initiatives: The Singapore-IEA regional training hub and an annual Singapore-IEA Forum to drive discussion on new technologies and innovation.
The training hub will allow the IEA to use Singapore as a base to boost the region’s energy-related capabilities, according to Mr Iswaran, who added that a regional version of the IEA’s Energy Efficiency Training Week for policymakers and officials will be held here next year. The Paris-based IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation set up in 1974 to help member countries coordinate responses to major oil supply disruptions.
IEA members have to be a country under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and meet criteria such as being a net oil importer and have reserves of crude oil or product equivalent to around 90 days of the previous years’ average net oil imports.
The IEA Association programme provides a platform for the agency to engage non-member countries to work together on issues including energy security, energy data and statistics, and energy policy analysis. It enables non-member countries to participate in a variety of activities, including IEA standing groups, committees, and ministerial meetings.
Mr Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said that being an IEA association country is part of Singapore’s strategy in staying relevant as it is imperative the country finds its way to the frontline of global happenings.
“Platforms such as IEA can facilitate conversations where Singapore could gain insights on developments well ahead of time. This is an advantage that is good to have, not despite being small, but because we are small,” he said.
Mr Song Seng Wun, CIMB Private Banking economist, said: “We are always asking whether Singapore can stay relevant given that it’s never going to be the cheapest place or sexiest place. I think the fact that there is such an interest in Singapore (to be part of IEA) shows that it is still relevant as a neutral ground that organisations such as IEA, Interpol can tap on.”
On Singapore becoming the newest association country of IEA, Dr Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, said: “I am particularly happy to welcome Singapore into the IEA family. It is an important player both regionally and globally and has put in place strong policies to ensure secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply.”
“We look forward to building even stronger ties between the IEA and Singapore, especially because it is in a strategic position to support the energy transition in South-east Asia,” he added.
LEE YEN NEE Today Online 24 Oct 16;