12th ASEAN and Asia Forum

The Sino-American Conflict and ASEAN: Surviving, Transforming, Succeeding


Venue: The Oriental Ballroom, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue, Singapore, 039797
Date: Thursday, 29 August 2019
Time: 08:00 – 13:00

08:00 – 08:45


08:45 – 08:55

Welcome Remarks

Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

08:55 – 09:15

Opening Keynote: Keeping ASEAN Ahead amidst Global Uncertainty

Geopolitical tensions are creating an uncertain external environment for Singapore and the region. As a trade-dependent economy, Singapore is experiencing a slowdown. Even if the Sino-American trade tensions are resolved, the shifts in supply chains and production patterns that have resulted from the trade war are unlikely to revert to previous norms. In this context, Singapore and its ASEAN neighbours are working to improve connectivity and pursuing multilateral trade deals like the RCEP, while harnessing Industry 4.0 to move up the global value chain. In the days ahead, it will be necessary for Singapore and ASEAN to transform in order to survive and succeed in an evolving global economy.

  • How is US-China competition manifesting, and what are the long-term implications for ASEAN?
  • Besides the trade war, what are the other trends affecting the global economy, and how are Singapore and ASEAN responding?
  • What should Singapore-based businesses and investors do in the current economic climate?

Keynote Speaker: Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore

09:15 – 09:30

In Conversation with Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore

Speaker: Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore

Moderator: Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

09:30 – 10:30

The Hatakeyama Dialogue: Navigating the Trade War – Regional Implications of the Sino-American Tensions

Tensions between the United States and China are heating up, in areas ranging from trade to technology. With the US and China at odds, ASEAN, Japan, and other middle powers have sought to maintain links with both sides and broker an end to the conflict. But there are growing concerns that the ongoing frictions are not merely about trade deficits or 5G networks, but reflect a deepening longer-term competition between the region’s great powers. The Sino-American standoff has already affected regional supply chains and investor sentiments, resulting in winners and losers.

  • What are the prospects for an end to the trade war, and what variables will affect Sino-American relations?
  • What can the US, China, and others in Asia do to improve ties between the major economies?
  • Has the trade war undermined the global economic order, and can FTAs such as the RCEP and the CPTPP help sustain momentum towards trade liberalisation?



Mr. Nicholas Fang, Director, Security & Global Affairs, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

10:30 – 10:50

Tea Break

10:50 – 11:50

Panel 2: Between the BRI and Indo-Pacific – How is ASEAN Responding?

The trade war has created both opportunities and challenges for ASEAN countries. Both the US and China are important economic partners of ASEAN countries, and a slowdown in either would have knock-on effect for the region’s economy. ASEAN countries also benefit from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which promises to help address the high regional demand for infrastructure. However, the initiative has been accused of creating debt traps for host countries, while ASEAN is also being courted as a key American partner under the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

  • What opportunities are for ASEAN amid the trade war?
  • How should governments and businesses engage with the BRI?
  • What are ASEAN countries doing to balance their relationship with China and the US, and what more should be done?

Panel Keynote:

Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister for Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia


  • Dr. Lili Yan Ing, Lead Advisor on International Trade to the Minister of Trade, Indonesia
  • Dr. Panitan Wattanayagorn, Former Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister for Security, Thailand; and Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University
  • Mr. Jasper Wong, Head of Construction and Infrastructure, Sector Solutions Group, United Overseas Bank (UOB)


Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

11:50 – 12:50

Panel 3: Moving Beyond the Trade War – Digitisation and Transformation in ASEAN

As global trade tensions worsen, ASEAN countries are intensifying efforts to harness the digital economy as a new engine of growth. ASEAN members are working to improve digital connectivity, promote e-commerce, and support innovation and entrepreneurship. While ASEAN’s businesses – especially micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) – stand to benefit from enhanced access to markets, finance, and technology, ASEAN countries also face challenges in adapting to the new realities of a digital era.

  • How ready is ASEAN to ride the digital economy as its next engine of growth?
  • How are ongoing geopolitical tensions affecting ASEAN’s telcos and tech companies?
  • How can ASEAN’s partners support ASEAN’s digital transformation?



Ms. Lee Chen Chen, Director – Policy Programmes, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

12:50 – 13:00

Closing Remarks

Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

*Conference programme is subject to changes (updated 27 August 2019)