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Singapore Minister For Trade And Finance – Speech At Singapore Business Federation

World Trade

Open Eyes Opinion {source: SG gov}

Singapore

SPEECH BY MR LIM HNG KIANG, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY, AT THE SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION NATIONAL DAY OBSERVANCE CEREMONY, 04 AUGUST 2015 AT NICOLL ROOM, SUNTEC CITY CONVENTION CENTER

 

 

Mr Teo Siong Seng,
Distinguished Guests,
Friends in the Business Community,
A very good morning
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I am happy to be here today to celebrate our coming National Day, and would like to thank the Singapore Business Federation for inviting me to this event. As the apex business chamber in Singapore, SBF serves as the voice of our businesses and a champion of their interests, working in partnership with the Government. It is therefore apt that SBF has taken the lead in organising the National Day Observance ceremony for the business community.
 
Celebrating 50 Years of Economic Growth
This Sunday, we celebrate fifty years of nationhood, and the remarkable story of Singapore. From a small, post-colonial city state in 1965, with no hinterland and facing the uncertainties of separation, we have grown to be one of about a dozen countries that moved from middle-income to high-income over the last 40, 50 years. But more importantly, we have created a better life for Singaporeans. In the last five years alone, the real median wage of our citizens has grown by 9%. And this was achieved while the world was coping with the consequences of the global financial crisis. We have also succeeded in raising our living standards, and created a city of opportunities for our citizens.  
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We have done this by constantly restructuring and upgrading our economy. From a labor-intensive phase with standard factories and workshops, we moved into more skills-intensive and capital-intensive activities, developing industries such as precision engineering, electronics, and petrochemicals. Building on this, we developed a knowledge-based economy with investments in science and technology. And we must continue to strengthen our competitive edge, to become an economy where innovation and productivity are the primary drivers of growth.

To support our growth and value proposition, we have established a set of fundamentals that has made Singapore a trusted brand around the world. The government has worked to maintain a robust pro-enterprise business environment through efficient government services, good infrastructure, trusted institutions, a sound regulatory regime, and stable policies. The tripartism approach with government, labor unions and businesses working closely together toward common goals, has provided a stable operating environment for businesses in Singapore.

The efforts of our business community have been an important part of Singapore’s success. Many of our businesses have been bold in seizing opportunities, and have continually improved in order to stay competitive in an ever-challenging global environment. We are seeing higher levels of internationalization, with overseas direct investment growing at a CAGR of about 30% over five years to reach about $34 billion in 2013. We are also seeing higher levels of innovation and entrepreneurship. Overall business spending on R&D activities in Singapore has grown, from $2.1 billion in 2003 to $4.5 billion in 2013. In particular, our SME are also participating in R&D activities and their investment in R&D activities grew from $370 million in 2003 to $580 million in 2013.

The Next Phase of our Economy

Today is also a time to look forward to the next phase and ask what the future holds for us. With all that we have built, we are in a strong position to take on the opportunities that are arising from globalization, from a rising Asia, as well as from emerging technologies. But at the same time, we cannot ignore the challenges that we face. We are constrained by limited manpower and land. We also face competition from other global cities like London, New York and Hong Kong, and from emerging economies including our neighbors in South East Asia. To continue to be competitive, we therefore need to restructure, to innovate and to internationalize, and we need to invest in our people.

In every sector of our economy, our companies must constantly improve their productivity, actively move up the value chain, and seek out new growth opportunities. We are still in the middle of our restructuring journey and have to work at raising our enterprises’ productivity. Our companies must look beyond our domestic market, and expand overseas to find new global and regional markets. We must also capitalise on our portfolio of industries, invest in R&D and harness technology to develop new growth clusters in both manufacturing and services.

We must continue to ensure that our workforce is prepared for the industries of tomorrow. In light of the pace of change brought about by technology, our workers will need to constantly enhance their skill-sets, not just at the point when they enter the workforce, but throughout their lives. Through the SkillsFuture initiative announced this year, the Government will put in place the structures and processes to enable Singaporeans to develop and learn the relevant skill-sets as they progress from formal schooling, through their careers and until their retirement. We therefore need the support of all the industry leaders here today to be a part of this initiative and to invest in your employees.

Conclusion

The economic environment that we face today is challenging, but it also offers tremendous opportunities. My view is that we are taking on these opportunities and challenges from a position of strength. The Government is committed to working with the business community to build on our achievements and ensure success in the next chapter of our economic growth.

Majulah Singapore!
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[photo credits: “1 singapore city skyline dusk panorama 2011” by chenisyuan – chenisyuan. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1_singapore_city_skyline_dusk_panorama_2011.jpg#/media/File:1_singapore_city_skyline_dusk_panorama_2011.jpg]
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