1. Let me begin by thanking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and His Excellency Abdullah Amer Al-Swaha, for convening this Extraordinary G20 Digital Economy Ministers Meeting.
2. This COVID-19 pandemic, as we have all acknoweldged, is the most serious global public health crisis in living memory. Economies, global trade and international supply chains have been severely disrupted. Against this backdrop, digital technologies take on added salience as critical enablers of our pandemic response and post-pandemic recovery. Hence, this Extraordinary virtual meeting and the COVID-19 Response Statement is an important and timely initiative.
3. I would like to elaborate briefly on three fronts where digital technologies can yield near and long term benefits: enhancing public health, building an informed citizenry, and strengthening economic resilience.
First, Technology for Public Health
4. COVID-19 has accentuated the need for digital health solutions such as telemedicine, and targeted interventions like automated temperature screening, travel and health declarations, and contact tracing. In Singapore, we have developed apps that use proximity and geolocation to facilitate community-driven contact tracing. We are actively exploring other ways to use technology for public health, and we welcome partnerships with governments, tech companies, and researchers to develop and improve digital health solutions.
Second, Technology for an Informed Citizenry
5. COVID-19 is not only a public health challenge; it is also a psychological battle against fear. A well-informed citizenry is at the heart of this battle. Technology enables governments to deepen and broaden their engagement with their people, thereby building public trust and social cohesion which are essential to mounting a strong pandemic response. Singapore has used a wide range of digital platforms to disseminate timely and accurate COVID-related information to all segments of our society, and to counter misinformation and falsehoods that can have large-scale destabilising effects. We look forward to learning from the best practices of other countries in our collective effort to promulgate trusted information and battle falsehoods.
Third, Technology for Economic Resilience
6. COVID-19 poses an unprecedented economic challenge. More than ever, enterprises need to go digital to overcome current challenges, strengthen business resilience, and seize new digital opportunities. For this, Government support is key, especially for our Small and Medium Enterprises; in Singapore we do this through our SMEs Go Digital programme.
7. We also need greater interoperability of digital infrastructure systems to enhance the efficiency and resilience of global supply chains. To this end, Singapore is working with like-minded partners on Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs), which serve as a framework for Government-to-Government cooperation to shape international rules and benchmarks in areas such as paperless trade and e-payments. We want to work with more countries in this endeavour.
Finally, 5G as the Foundation for Digital Technologies
8. This pandemic has also underscored the importance of investing in our digital connectivity infrastructure and its cybersecurity. In that regard, 5G is the backbone of the digital economy. I am therefore pleased to share with all members that Singapore has just announced yesterday the provisional award of licenses for 2 nationwide standalone 5G networks.
9. Let me conclude by expressing Singapore’s support for the G20 Digital Economy COVID-19 Response Statement, and its emphasis on the crucial role that digital technologies can play in our global COVID-19 response and post COVID-19 recovery.
10. We are honoured to be part of this important discussion and looks forward to working with the G-20 and international community to ensure a valuable, trusted and secure digital future for all. Thank you.