Keynote Address By Law Minister K Shanmugam at the Inaugural SIAC Congress 2014
6 Jun 2014 Posted in Speeches
Mr Lucien Wong, Chairman of SIAC,
Professor Michael Pryles, President of the SIAC Court,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Thank you for inviting me for your inaugural Congress. SIAC was set up about 25 years ago. Since then, particularly in recent years, SIAC has achieved many significant milestones.
- In 2012, SIAC hosted the ICCA in Singapore. The event saw an impressive turn-out of over 1,000 speakers and participants from 59 countries – the largest in ICCA’s history.
- In 2013, SIAC achieved a new record of 259 new cases filed. This comes on the back of a steady increase in cases over the last five years. SIAC also established its first overseas office in Mumbai last year,
- 2014 also looks to be an exciting year for SIAC with this inaugural SIAC Congress and tonight’s launch of their arbitration training video.
Growth in Trade and Investment Opportunities in Asia
Over the years, we have seen an increased preference for arbitration as a means of dispute resolution in the region. There is further tremendous potential for growth – driven by economic development.
Asian economies have seen significant growth in recent years. They are expected to continue growing. ASEAN economies in particular, have demonstrated resilient growth supported by strong domestic consumption and investment. Last year, the combined ASEAN economies achieved an annual growth of 5%, while the global economic growth was estimated to be less than 3%.
What has been driving this growth and what will continue to drive it?
- First, there is the strong Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
- In 2013, FDI into Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, known as the ASEAN 5, grew by 7% to US$128.4 billion.
- FDI inflows into Asia have grown by nearly 30% since 2009, and reached US$400 billion as of 2012. This accounted for 30% of global FDI flows. A study by the Asian Development Bank suggests that by 2050, Asia could account for half of global GDP, trade and investment.
Second, infrastructure spending in the region is expected to increase. In Southeast Asia alone, nearly US$1 trillion of infrastructure investment will be needed through 2020. India also presents a significant infrastructure business opportunity. India’s infrastructure sector potential is estimated to require US$ 1 trillion in funding from 2012 to 2017.
- Third, the negotiations for several multilateral trade agreements which are currently underway will boost trade flows in the region.
- ASEAN is working towards the ASEAN Economic Community or AEC. The AEC will integrate and transform ASEAN into a single regional market with freer flows of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and capital.
- Another game changing multilateral agreement in the works is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”). The TPP is envisioned as a comprehensive trade agreement that will tackle not only issues such as trade liberalisation in goods, services, investments and government procurement, but will also include areas such as intellectual property rights, technical barriers to trade and competition policy. The 12 TPP countries which include the US, Australia, Japan and Singapore, represent 40% of global GDP and about one-third of all world trade.
All these factors will contribute to the growth in arbitration. The rise in cross-border investment and trade transactions will invariably result in the prevalence of complex cross-border disputes, and parties will demand access to timely and cost-efficient dispute resolution services such as arbitration.
Arbitration in Singapore
Singapore has done well in developing our arbitration ecosystem over the last few years. Singapore is now the third most preferred seat of arbitration worldwide and SIAC, the fourth most preferred arbitral institution worldwide.
- The success of the arbitration sector in Singapore is due to several factors. First, Singapore has built a strong legal framework and arbitration-friendly policies and regulation.
- We have a completely open regime for international commercial arbitration – such that parties engaging in arbitration in Singapore have the freedom to engage lawyers of any nationality and to use any governing law.
- Our Courts have been supportive of arbitration. The Courts have consistently supported the finality of awards from arbitrations and there has been minimal intervention by the courts except within an internationally accepted rubric.
- Singapore is also a signatory to the New York Convention and our International Arbitration Act is UNCITRAL Model Law compliant.
Second, Singapore is well connected to the world. Singapore is a major aviation hub in South East Asia and within seven to eight hours from Singapore, lie China, India, Japan and South Korea – Asian economic powerhouses that are amongst the largest economies in the world. Singapore’s proximity and connectivity allows parties to have their disputes heard in a convenient and neutral location.
Third, we have a first-rate arbitration centre that is SIAC and its international Board has been instrumental in establishing SIAC in the international scene alongside players like the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”) and International Chamber of Commerce (“ICC”). The SIAC caseload is today comparable to that of LCIA.
Development of Dispute Resolution Infrastructure
Building on our success in arbitration, we are now looking to develop complementary infrastructure and services in international commercial litigation and mediation. We will be setting up the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”) and the Singapore International Mediation Centre (“SIMC”).
The SICC would appeal to those who for example, have non-arbitrable disputes and who would like the availability of an appeal. The SIMC will provide international commercial mediation services as an important complement to arbitration and litigation. Successful mediation can allow parties to mutually arrive at a mix of legal and non-legal solutions suited to their different interests.
The SICC and SIMC, together with the SIAC, will provide a complete suite of dispute resolution offerings to parties, especially those with cross-border disputes.
We will continue in our efforts to support the growth and development of the arbitration sector in Singapore. Arbitration will only become more important with the expected growth in the region and growing interest for multi-tier dispute resolution.
- With that, I would like to congratulate SIAC on their inaugural Congress. I wish you all a good conference for the rest of the day. Thank you very much.
Last updated on 06 Jun 2014