Dr Balakrishnan has been a strong advocate for multilateralism and international cooperation, particularly in the fight against COVID-19. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore co-chaired the Friends of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which supports vaccine multilateralism and access to COVID-19 vaccines for all. Ministry of Foreign Affairs also undertook its largest consular operation to bring home Singaporeans stranded overseas. Dr Balakrishnan has also been involved in efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development. He was a ministerial facilitator for negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations. He has also played a leading role in promoting sustainable urban development through initiatives such as the World Cities Summit, which brings together urban leaders from around the world to share best practices and innovative solutions for sustainable urban development.
Singapore Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan Opened the 2023 Geopolitical Update
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan opened the 2023 Geopolitical Update with his insightful keynote. Dr Balakrishnan has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Singapore since October 2015. During his tenure, Singapore hosted the landmark Singapore Summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 2018, which helped to pave the way for peace and stability in the region.
In his remarks, Dr Balakrishnan noted that "Australia can play an important stabilising role in our region and Australia has many unique strengths." He noted that Australia can play a leadership role in "pushing for green, biotech and digital revolutions." He also noted the modality that Australia has for "critical minerals needed for the new, emerging digital and green economy."
Dr Balakrishnan noted that "Southeast Asia is not just a crossroads. Southeast Asia on its own merits has a population of 670 million persons, which by the way that makes us by population larger than the EU. Southeast Asia is cumulatively the fifth largest economy in the world with a combined GDP currently of, in slightly in excess of US$3 trillion, and this number will double if not quadruple within the next two, maximum three decades. We are now seeing a burst of entrepreneurial energy in Southeast Asia, and it is home to many innovative high growth companies and digital unicorns. Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest-growing digital markets. We believe the digital economy in Southeast Asia will grow by three times and will be worth more than US$300 billion by 2025. That is just a couple of years from now."
The inaugural ANU Southeast Asia Regional Geopolitical Update, taking place in-person and online at ANU on 1 May 2023.