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U.S. political and economic interests in Southeast Asia will not change regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said Thursday evening.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the Singapore Summit virtual conference, the minister said that the U.S. is invested in the peace, security and economic prosperity across Asia and will need to continue to work with partners to secure its own interests.

“What I think people are concerned with is the posture towards China, and what we are concerned with are not issues that have to do with personalities, it’s whether there will be a fundamental misunderstanding between the establishment of both the Chinese and the American side,” he said.

Responding to a question on the impact of the U.S. election on regional trade, Chan said that regardless of the winner, the next U.S. president will have to work with China to uphold a global trading system and security architecture.

“What worries us is that with reduced interaction between the leadership and the younger generation on both sides, then we might inadvertently have planted the seeds of a future misunderstanding,” said Chan. He called for greater interaction between the two superpowers to understand “where they need to work together and where they will compete with one another.”

Regarding global trade in the COVID-19 era, the minister said, “The health crisis will always be a here-and-now challenge, but I think we have to look beyond that,” he said, later adding that “many issues” need to be resolved regarding the World Trade Organization.

“We must not neglect the need for us to set in place architecture for the next generation of growth, and that depends very much on how we architect the new rules to provide mutual assurance, security, and the free flow of data in the digital realm.”

The Singapore Summit is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte., the Monetary Authority of Singapore and state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte.

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