In The News

Singapore Becomes Southeast Asia Hub for ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative with Outstanding Channel and Services

21st Century Business Herald

21 Jul 2018

Morrison & Foerster partners Paul D. McKenzie and Craig I. Celniker discussed the strategic importance of Singapore as Southeast Asia’s hub for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as well as its unique advantage in terms of dispute settlement, in the 21st Century Business Herald article “Singapore becomes Southeast Asia hub for ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative with outstanding channel and services.” 

Mr. McKenzie introduced Morrison & Foerster’s strategy to capture the business opportunities brought to Singapore by the Belt and Road Initiative, “After 12 years in the Beijing office, I was relocated to the Singapore office one and a half years ago partly because of the business opportunities associated with the Belt and Road Initiative. One of the principal responsibilities of our Singapore office is to represent Chinese corporate clients and execute businesses and investments within the Southeast Asia region.” 

When it comes to Singapore’s unique advantage in dispute settlement, Mr. Celniker shared his opinion, “When Chinese companies go abroad into Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong could both be good options in terms of dispute settlement. I lead Morrison & Foerster’s arbitration team and recently relocated to the Singapore office as part of our pursuit of opportunities relating to Belt and Road. When Belt and Road was launched five years ago, our team branched out from Tokyo to establish a disputes practice in Hong Kong. Now we notice that more and more Chinese companies expand to Southeast Asia and that Singapore has become another potential center of arbitration for these kinds of disputes. It is a big opportunity for us. In the past, we have seen Chinese companies prefer HKIAC for dispute resolution when they are not able to secure a forum inside China. With more and more Chinese companies expanding to Southeast Asia, there are more opportunities for Singapore to be a chosen arbitration venue and we want to seize the great opportunity.” 

While some believe that China’s continuous promotion of international commercial dispute settlement mechanisms might bring competition to Singapore, Mr. Celniker held some different thoughts, “Singapore is a leading international arbitration hub, not only because of SIAC; it also has many experienced international arbitration lawyers from all over the world. The courts are supportive of arbitration, in terms of enforcing agreements to arbitrate and awards, as well as not interfering in the arbitration process. Singapore, as a member of the ‘New York Convention’, has solved thousands of cases so people have faith to settle the disputes here.”

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