(Bloomberg) — China’s growing role on the world stage, climate change, and economic questions from inflation to cryptocurrencies were in focus as global leaders of government, finance and industry gathered at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
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Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan said China will continue to open up to foreign investment even as other countries raise barriers, and underscored the importance of relations with America. But U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said China must respect intellectual property rights and “live up to its commitments.”
The three-day event in Singapore comes 24 hours after Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke to defuse tensions, and just days after a climate deal at the COP26 talks in Glasgow. Others speaking today include Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google parent Alphabet Inc.; David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; and Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister of Singapore.
U.S. Pushes China on Trade, Won’t Join Pact (12:20 p.m. H.K.)
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. wants a “level playing field” with China, and ruled out joining the Asia-Pacific free trade pact for now.
“China needs to play by the rules, they need to respect our IP, they need to live up to their commitments,” Raimondo said in an interview at the forum. “Right now for example, in the so-called Phase 1 deal where the Chinese committed to purchase a certain amount of aircraft and agricultural products, they’re not doing that, they’re not living up to their commitments.”
The U.S. won’t join the CPTPP trade pact between several Asia-Pacific nations for now, she said, and is trying to increase trade and deepen relationships outside that trade deal — which it once pushed to organize as a counterweight to China but later abandoned before completion.
Raimondo also said the U.S. absolutely needs to increase its domestic semiconductor chip supply, though that could come from foreign companies producing more in the U.S.
UBS Chair “Skeptical” On Cryptocurrencies (12:15 p.m. H.K.)
UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber said he is “skeptical” of cryptocurrencies, in one of his strongest verdicts yet on digital currencies.
The idea of moving “payments from banks and cash to something that is an anonymous vehicle where both sides of the transactions are not known — that will not survive,” he said at a panel discussion at the forum. Regulators will also not tolerate cryptocurrencies becoming “really big” given the unidentifiable nature of transactions, said Weber, a former head of Germany’s Bundesbank.
His comments come just as more banks are looking to expand into crypto. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America are hiring for the asset class, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has started trading crypto futures.
Singapore Exchange Sees Unicorns, SPAC IPOs (12:10 p.m. H.K.)
Singapore Exchange is in talks for IPOs ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to “unicorns above a couple of billion dollars,” Chief Executive Officer Loh Boon Chye said in a Bloomberg Television interview at the forum.
The pipeline includes firms based in Southeast Asia and outside of Asia in industries including new economy companies and real estate investment trusts. “If market conditions hold,” Singapore could host its first SPAC IPO either by the end of this year or early 2022.
Kissinger Says Xi-Biden Talks a Good Start (11:20 a.m. H.K.)
A virtual summit the week between Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping marked a “good beginning” for the world’s biggest economies to avoid a conflict, said Henry Kissinger, who as secretary of state helped lead a resumption of ties with China in the 1970s.
“They now have to be followed by concrete discussions that lead in a direction both presidents have affirmed they want to pursue,” the influential U.S. diplomat and author told the forum in a conversation with Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.
“Both sides have to accept that a conflict between major technical powers of comparable capacities must not occur for the preservation of humanity,” Kissinger said.
Australia Wants Talks With China on Trade (11:10 a.m. H.K.)
Australia will need to be able to conduct ministerial talks with China as part of a process for the world’s second-largest economy to join a regional trade agreement, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said.
“You have to able to sit down and work through specially on market access issues,” Tehan told Bloomberg Television. “So we would need some sort of ministerial dialog to be able to work through that market accession.”
Both China and Taiwan have asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, presenting member nations with a difficult choice — admit one, both or neither.
Bankers Say High Inflation May Stay (11:05 a.m. H.K.)
The heads of two global banks, one from Asia and one based in Europe, predicted an uncertain time ahead for the world economy as inflation rises and persists.
The world may see “uncomfortably high” rates of inflation for one to three years, UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber said at the NEF. Inflation is getting a lot more structural, DBS Group Holdings Ltd. CEO Piyush Gupta said at the event.
“Let’s remember inflation is at a 31-year high, at least the data that came out of the U.S., and it’s clearly going to remain high for the foreseeable future,” said John Studzinski, managing director and vice chairman of PIMCO. There will be “a period of time where inflation is going to be very volatile.”
‘We Can’t Live Like This’ Says Mittal (10:15 a.m. H.K.)
A poll showed that 68% of those at the forum said the shift to remote work would be the most enduring business impact of the pandemic, with 16% saying it would be the move to a greener economy.
“Remote work is the norm at the moment,” said Sunil Mittal, the billionaire chairman of Bharti Airtel Ltd. “My own view is one year from now this poll would show a reduced percentage on remote work, and the green economy will get even more momentum.”
He bemoaned the fact that he would fly back from the forum to a Delhi that’s blanketed with smog.
“We can’t live like this,” Mittal said. “We talk about 5 million people dying of the pandemic; we don’t talk about how many people have been choked around the world.”
Great Resignation to Stay, Mastercard CEO Says (10 a.m. H.K.)
The labor market reckoning that’s become known as the Great Resignation may stay for some time, Mastercard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Miebach said.
In industries that are in great demand, such as hospitality and healthcare, there is “a lot of competition for great people,” Miebach said at the forum. “In our industry, anybody who knows anything about AI, digital identity, cyber, hot skills, those are the people that are in demand and those are the people saying ‘I am feeling huge pressure everyday in what I do, can I do better, let me look elsewhere.’”
China Can’t Develop if Isolated From World (9:45 a.m. H.K.)
China and the world must work together to boost global economic growth, Vice President Wang Qishan said in a speech to the forum, vowing to continue opening up more to foreign investment at a time when more countries are raising barriers over national security concerns.
“China can not develop in isolation of the world and nor can the world develop without China,” Wang said Wednesday at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. “China will keep its arms wide open, provide more market investment and growth opportunities to the world.”
Wang, technically second-in-charge to President Xi Jinping, spoke a day after the Chinese leader held a virtual summit with U.S. President Joe Biden. The outcome was generally positive, with both sides agreeing to continue talks on a range of topics even as they continue to spar over issues like Taiwan.
He was introduced by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who said he hopes that China will continue to embrace reform and be open to competition.
Xi-Biden Summit Seen Setting New Tone (9:35 a.m. H.K.)
Yesterday’s Xi-Biden summit sent a “strong message that the two largest economies have to work together,” Henry Huiyao Wang, founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
He noted that Vice-President Wang’s speech to the NEF emphasized the importance of openness and the dangers posed by isolating China. The world needs to accept that China is developing very fast and give credit to the country for lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.
But he pushed for more global action to fight the coronavirus. “There’s a lack of leadership on the global fighting of the pandemic,” he said. “There’s a need for having that so we can facilitate travel, the movement of the people, and even for Chinese government officials to visit other countries and back and forth. So I think that should gradually open.”
China Tech Firms Say ‘You Can’t Kill Me’ (9:25 a.m. H.K.)
China’s technology industry is already recovering from Beijing’s sweeping crackdown, with founders and investors adjusting to the new reality, according to one prominent venture capital investor.
“The Chinese entrepreneurs, they have a ‘You can’t kill me attitude’ toward the government, and toward anybody,” Gary Rieschel, founding managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners, in an interview at the forum. “They’re fiercely competitive, the energy is phenomenal. All you can do is pick the best entrepreneurs.”
World Needs Action, Not Words, on Climate (9:00 a.m. H.K.)
The three day event was opened by Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent company of Bloomberg News, who said the recent Glasgow summit was encouraging, especially because of a U.S.-China commitment to work together.
But the former mayor of New York City warned that action is needed more than words. He has previously committed $500 million to Beyond Carbon, a campaign aimed at closing the remaining coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2030 and halting the development of new natural gas-fired plants. He also started a campaign to close a quarter of the world’s remaining coal plants and cancel all proposed coal plants by 2025.
The summit started at 8:30 a.m. Singapore (7:30 p.m. New York), and speeches and panels are broadcast live. You can sign up for our New Economy Daily newsletter here. The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
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