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Distinguished guests,

Welcome to the inaugural Asia-Commonwealth Business Summit.

Today, countries across the world – in Asia, the Commonwealth, and beyond – are faced with a complex set of economic and social stresses. Chief among these has been a growing trust deficit. In 27 markets surveyed in the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, only one in five people felt that the system was working for them, with nearly half the mass population believing that the system is failing them.

In this context, the Summit’s emphasis on trust is most timely. There is a growing recognition that businesses play a critical role in building trust. The Business of Trust initiative started by the former Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Charles Bowman, and the shift of focus by the U.S. Business Roundtable from shareholders to stakeholders, are just two recent examples. There is a pressing need for businesses to value the importance of areas that go beyond profit making: for example, the environment and climate change, the well-being of employees and customers, and the local communities that they affect.

Singapore is an apt location for continuing these important conversations. Our status as the world’s most competitive economy today reflects our strong fundamentals in creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. At the same time, trust has always been central to the Singapore brand, as reflected in our strong rankings in international indices on trust, anti-corruption and the rule of law.

Trust is essential to business. With these thoughts, I wish you a fruitful and meaningful Summit as you explore this theme, and a pleasant stay in Singapore.

Mr Desmond Lee
Minister for Social and Family Development
Second Minister for National Development

Sir Charles Edward Beck

I am so pleased to understand that The Business of Trust had been chosen as a key theme for the Asia-Commonwealth Business Summit.

As the 690th Lord Mayor of London it was the theme I championed throughout my mayoral year – using the 5 C.I.V.I.C principles we had developed and the programme to help create a legacy of better business trusted by society.


  • Competence and skills: in short, business must do what they do well

  • Integrity: business must do the right thing

  • Value to Society: business must have a wider purpose

  • Interests of Others: business must focus on the customer and other s-holders

  • Clear Communication: business must communicate clearly & transparently

And, why did we choose trust? Because, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was a moment marking the beginning of a shift in the relationship between business and society. Today, 11 years on from the GFC – and notwithstanding some strong new regulation and improved business practice – Trust in Business remains low – as reflected in the annual recent results of the Edelman Trust Barometer. 11 years ago, trust was very much a Financial Services specific issue. And, today, whilst Trust remains relevant to the sector, it has morphed into a global issue – manifest across the world in so many ways including the rising populism in countries worldwide.

We learned many things throughout the year – not least that success is about the long term winning over the short term and that we should never forget….trust arrives on foot and leaves on a galloping horse. And we were constantly reminded of the importance of trust – being the cornerstone of all relationships and a key determinant of long-term, sustainable success.

I will not be with you in person on 28th – 29th November but I wish the Asia-Commonwealth Business Summit a successful two days – and I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your discussions.

Sir Charles Bowman
Former Lord Mayor of London
United Kingdom

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