Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (20 January) cautioned against a challenging road ahead for Singapore, saying that the nation needs to focus on four key strategies that will help to drive economic recovery amid the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier today, the Economic Development Board (EDB) released data that indicated that the city-state has managed to attract S$17.2 billion in fixed asset investments last year, up from S$15.2 billion in the previous year.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Chan noted that Singapore remains an attractive investment destination for global firms which allowed it to overcome the pandemic-induced uncertainties, as reported by The Straits Times.
“EDB’s figures today are promising and encouraging and, if all things go well, we can expect to see some recovery in the global economy towards the second half of this year,” said the Minister.
“However, we should not think that the road ahead will be a walk in the park because we have managed to do well up till now,” he added.
Mr Chan noted that Singapore will focus on four key strategies in order to drive economic recovery and position itself strongly for continued growth.
The first key strategy is to strengthen the nation’s position as a “critical node” in the global value chain.
He pointed out that the nation’s strategy to identify the best global companies in niche areas and build a strong ecosystem to support these companies has been successful, as it has uplifted many SMEs in the economy.
Mr Chan said Singapore will continue with the strategy, especially in new growth areas such as agri-tech, biomedical sciences, electronics and infocomm and media, as he believes that such an approach could provide greater resilience to the economy.
The second key strategy is to forge new trade rules in forward-looking areas such as data, finance and technology.
Singapore can accelerate efforts to develop its digital economy and set high standards in digital trade rules globally with the digital economy agreements (DEAs), said the Minister.
Mr Chan hinted that Singapore has launched negotiations with South Korea and is looking to start discussions with Britain, following its DEAs with Australia, Chile and New Zealand last year.
The third key strategy is to pursue an innovation-led and sustainable economy.
Apart from strengthening the nation’s research networks and supporting small companies, Mr Chan said Singapore will also encourage companies to innovate and develop new solutions for regional and global markets.
Lastly is to help companies and workers to stay competitive in a post-COVID-19 world.
The Minister said that the Government will progressively support companies from stabilization to helping them move into new opportunities.
“We will give our people the exposure and the experience they need to compete in a globalised economy so that we can increase their chances of success,” Mr Chan noted.
Citing global consultancy firm McKinsey’s research, which predicts that 75 per cent of the world’s top 500 companies will cease to exist, he said this indicated that jobs will change significantly and workers’ skillsets will need to be constantly upgraded and re-learnt.
“Governments all around the world are facing significant domestic pressure to secure investments that will create new jobs and opportunities for their people,” said Mr Chan.
Meanwhile, he added that tensions between the United States and China are also likely to persist.
“This could result in them having limited bandwidth to shoulder greater international responsibilities which could further stress the international rules-based trading system which many, including Singapore, have benefited greatly from over the years,” Mr Chan said.