Credit by Police patrol outside the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore © WSJ.com
What Singapore Gains from Hosting Trump-Kim summit?
ECONOMY Singapore

What Singapore Gains from Hosting Trump-Kim summit?

Hosting the Trump-Kim summit is no easy feat for a small country like Singapore – and it certainly doesn’t come cheap with all things considered.

During a visit to the international media centre on Sunday (Jun 10), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the Singapore media that the cost of the summit would amount to approximately S$20 million .

Mr Lee also said footing the bill is part of Singapore’s contribution to an international endeavour that is “in our profound interest” and the country was willing to pay the cost. 

He further elaborated that about half of the multi-million dollar figure would be spent on security, although the exact amount could not be determined as much of the security consists of existing assets that have already been on round-the-clock deployment.

Due to the high-profile nature of the summit and the matters being discussed, Mr Lee said bar had to be raised much higher for security standards this time as compared to previous meetings between world leaders.

United States President Donald Trump’s motorcade travelling out of Sentosa after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as photographed from Propeller Rooftop Bar at Bay Hotel Singapore on June 12, 2018.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
United States President Donald Trump’s motorcade travelling out of Sentosa after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as photographed from Propeller Rooftop Bar at Bay Hotel Singapore on June 12, 2018.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

While noting the possibility of recouping some of the costs incurred, he said: “If you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the real important things.”

“And in this case what is important is that the summit is held, and we are hosting it, not extravagantly but with due consideration to costs, but making sure operational requirements are met.”

Aside from security, a significant portion of the cost comes from accommodating the estimated 2,500 journalists who will be covering the summit at the international media centre in the F1 Pit Building – around S$5 million, according to the Ministry of Communications and Information.

When asked about Singapore’s rationale behind its agreement to play host to the Trump-Kim summit, Mr Lee explained the US and North Korea had to first agree on a venue that fulfilled their requirements and is deemed politically and diplomatically acceptable to both parties.

He said: “Therefore, when the two sides asked us to host the meeting, we cannot say no. We have to step up. I think that we are capable of doing it. We have to put some resources into it, but we can do a good job.”

Furthermore, facilitating the summit would benefit Singapore’s reputation and bode well for the country’s publicity, according to Mr Lee.

“The fact that we have been chosen as the site of the meeting – we did not ask for it but we were asked and we agreed – says something about Singapore’s relations with the parties, with America, with North Korea, also our standing in the international community.”

In an interview with BBC Asia business correspondent Karishma Vaswani, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said: “It is an investment in world peace, and we can pull this off with no hitches…or even if things don’t go exactly to plan, the way we respond to it, the reputational benefits that will accrue to Singapore will far outweigh those costs.”

“The primary point is not about the money. It’s about securing peace, opportunity for development,” he added.

What will it gain?

By hosting the Trump-Kim meeting, Singapore has showcased its world-class transport system, city hygiene, public security, service quality and telecommunications in front of the world media, thereby further reinforcing its status as a global hub for major international events.

Such an unparalleled status enjoyed by Singapore is something that its competitors such as Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong and Shanghai can hardly attain no matter how much their governments are willing to spend.

About 2,500 reporters have arrived in Singapore to cover the meeting between the two heads of state. "In terms of direct impact, (it) gives us publicity," said Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a media briefing.

Singapore's world-class public transport | sbr.com.sg
Singapore's world-class public transport | sbr.com.sg

Tourists spend an average 3.5 days in Singapore and contribute about S$1,500, according to statistics collected by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). With 4,000 visitors and an average stay of 3.5 days expected during this visit, they could generate S$21 million. This is a small blip only of the total S$27.1 billion generated in the whole year, according to a forecast by STB.

Regional Peace as the Ultimate Prize

"If you think about why Singapore attracts so many global and regional headquarters, it’s because CEOs and decision-makers feel that it’s not only a good place for them, but safe and enjoyable for their families," said Lars Voedisch, managing director of PRecious Communications, a PR company.

The financial community is also carefully eyeing the summit. "A couple of days inconvenience to commuters is a small price to pay if the U.S. and North Korean summit can make Asia a safer and therefore more stable economic place," said Simon Lints, chief executive officer of Schroders wealth management, Singapore in an interview with finews.asia.

Preferred Choice 

Publicity is often hard to measure but experts gave their opinion on the tangible benefits of hosting the main event in Singapore. Since the 2015 meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's leader Ma Ying-jeou, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has seen a 32 percent increase in new cases that amounted to S$5.3 billion. SIAC is ranked third-most preferred arbitral institution in the world, after London and Paris.

The S$20 million price tag is less than one-fifth the price tag of hosting the Formula One race for one year, according to figures mentioned by Singapore's minister for trade and industry S. Iswaranin the "Straits Times» (behind paywall). The event hosted over 450,000 international visitors who generated S$1.4 billion in tourism receipts.

Source : Business Insider | Finews.asia | ejinsight.com

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