Stewart Watters and Aki Tonami

This paper analyses the extent to which Singapore has an Arctic policy and what factors may be driving that policy. Although a small, Southeast Asian territory located near the equator, Singapore is an influential maritime actor that has articulated its interest in Arctic governance through government statements, diplomatic initiatives and an application for observer status to the Arctic Council. We find that Singapore has considerable economic and political interest in the development of international maritime policy, including the Arctic, and is concerned by the potential local impacts of the climate change already visible in the Arctic. Singapore also has specific interests in the development of its domestic maritime industries. As a developmental state, there are close links between Singapore's state institutions and major commercial enterprises. Singapore's competence in the management of complex port infrastructure and the fostering of global leaders in the offshore marine and engineering industry are of particular note in analyzing factors driving the Singapore government's interest in the Arctic's potential. We conclude that Singapore's Arctic policy is in its early stages of definition. It is not yet clear whether Singapore's efforts to contribute to Arctic governance represent a foreign policy objective in its own right, or if Singapore's Arctic diplomacy is driven primarily by an ambition to exploit an emerging market niche in which it sees itself as a technological and expertise leader.

Stewart Watters is Research Fellow, and Aki Tonami is Researcher, at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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