Singapore’s fundamentals are sound but it must remain focused on leveraging the growth of Asia, especially ASEAN.
That call was made by the Economic Development Board’s International Advisory Council (IAC) after it concluded its bi-annual meeting in Singapore on Friday.
The IAC is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and comprises top executives of some of the world’s largest MNCs including Siemens, Philips, P&G and Panasonic.
Charting Singapore’s medium to long-term growth strategy, the IAC said the country can position itself as an advanced manufacturing hub where companies can manage their production chain in ASEAN.
It has also called on Singapore to be a global data management centre and lead adoption of new infocomm technologies.
One such example is to tap on digital technology to create new ways of doing business and raise productivity.
Alibaba Group’s executive chairman Jack Ma, who is also a member of IAC, said “Asia is going to be the place where mobile internet has most opportunities. With the wonderful infrastructure and technology that Singapore has, we could be a services centre and we could be a new innovation centre. On the mobile technology period, Singapore is the best hub to cover countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.”
Some of the council members added that Singapore’s leadership role in the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, as well as the integration of ASEAN economies by 2015, will provide many opportunities for global companies looking to expand their production footprint in the region.
Mr Teo said the council also discussed challenges like slower growth in the workforce and growing competition in the region.
The council said Singapore needs to factor in the improving educational profile and changing aspirations of Singaporeans, and resource constraints in the next phase of the country’s economic development.
Mr Teo said: “What we are trying to do is to look at our constraints, look at how we can do things with less land, less energy, less workers, less cost, but still have good growth, high quality growth for our people and position ourselves so that we can do this and be good partners with companies so that it make sense for them to be here in Singapore to partner us to do these things.”
The IAC said Singapore should continue to build on its position as a Global-Asia business hub and seize new opportunities in other emerging regions such as Latin America and Africa.
At the event, Mr Teo also spoke on the US Federal Reserve’s plans to unwind its bond buying programme also known as quantitative easing (QE).
Responding to a question at the EDB event, Mr Teo said Singapore is well-placed to deal with tapering of QE when it happens and stressed that Singapore’s sound exchange rate policy should hold the country in good stead.
Source : Channel News Asia | September 20, 2013