Southeast Asian countries would work more closely with new powers China and India to counter the pressure of protectionism and ensure continued growth, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said on Saturday.
Addressing the summit of the 10-member ASEAN, Lee said that regional economic growth was under threat because the political mood in many countries had turned against free trade.
He said trade tensions between the US and China in particular are worrying.
The US and China are entangled in their most consequential trade dispute since World War II. Both countries have proposed tariffs of US$50 billion on each other’s products. US President Donald Trump is looking to impose tariffs of up to US$100 billion more on Chinese goods.
“The global strategic balance is shifting, and so is the regional balance,” Lee said. “New powers, including China and India, are growing in strength and influence. This has opened up new opportunities for ASEAN member states as we expand our cooperation with them.”