Minister for Trade and Industry (MTI) Mr Chan Chun Sing said on 13 August that Singapore should brace itself for challenges but need not be overly pessimistic. He made this statement on his Facebook page in reference to the revised GDP growth forecast for the year 2019 by his ministry to which fell from 1.5-2.5% to 0.0-1.0%.
Mr Chan said that the downgraded growth forecast is due to the weaker global growth outlook and downturn in electronics. Growth is expected to come in at around the midpoint of MTI’s predicted range.
He also noted that the downside risks have increased, highlighting the escalating US-China trade conflict which “threatens to be a protracted affair”, the increased risks of a no-deal Brexit and other uncertainties.
He wrote, “Singapore is not alone in facing these headwinds. The global economy as a whole has weakened, with the IMF lowering its forecast for global GDP growth four times since October last year.”
Mr Chan added a positive spin, however, saying “We should brace ourselves for the challenges ahead but we need not be overly pessimistic. The fact that we continue to attract good investments reflects the confidence that investors have in our long-term value proposition.”
He referred to the announcement by Finnish energy firm Neste that it would be expanding its existing renewable products plant in Singapore as part of a S$2.1 billion investment here.
He continued, “The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely because every economic cycle is different and we must apply the right measures in order to effectively support our businesses and workers.”
The minister asserted that the country has overcome challenging economic cycles before by standing united and building on strong fundamentals, and that this time is no different. Mr Chan emphasised that the government will restructure the economy to deal with longer-term structural shifts which will allow the Singapore to “weather the storm” and “emerge stronger”.