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International relations

U.S. and China keep Singapore waiting on business mediation treaty

U.N. pact led by city-state gains little ratification traction amid COVID

Singapore is positioning itself as a neutral forum for resolving international business disputes, and is lobbying peers to ratify a U.N. mediation treaty that bears its name.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Demand for international mediation is rising, but a United Nations treaty spearheaded by Singapore is in ratification limbo two years after its introduction, as the pandemic alters priorities and the world's two biggest economies stay on the sidelines.

The U.S. and China have both signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation with over 50 others. But the rival powers have yet to ratify it or give equivalent approval, and in fact only a handful of smaller countries besides the treaty's namesake have done so. This keeps a potentially useful tool for managing fallout from the pandemic and U.S.-China tensions on the back burner -- a state of affairs Singapore hopes to change.

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