S’pore has to respond to global transitions, seize opportunities: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – Singapore must entrench itself in the global value chain by developing the capacity to produce what the world needs in times of crisis, as well as being able to attract frontier companies, ranging from vaccine developers to firms in precision engineering.

This will ensure that Singapore cannot get easily displaced, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing at the 9th Singapore Economic Review Conference on Monday (Aug 1).

The three-day conference kicked off at Hilton Singapore in Orchard Road on Monday, bringing together academics and business leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of accelerating economic growth in a post-Covid-19 world. It is organised by the Singapore Economic Review journal, whose editor is Nanyang Technological University’s Albert Winsemius chair professor of economics Euston Quah.

In his opening address, Mr Chan spoke about six key global transitions that will serve as the economic backdrop for the next 50 years, and the six moves that Singapore needs to make to respond to them.

For one thing, Singapore must pioneer new forms of connectivity and reinforce existing ones, he said, including growing its hub port status and global logistics network while resuming the plans for Changi Airport.

But this is not enough, especially as data and finance – the new enablers of growth – are not constrained by geography.

“We need to seize the opportunities that come from the connectivity of data, finance, talent, technology and regulations,” he added.

“Connectivity of technology standards and regulations to promote interoperability in a fragmenting world will be another source of man-made competitive advantage for Singapore.”

Building new talent networks is also vital, Mr Chan said.

“We need to break the artificial talent divide between locals and foreigners. The question going forward is not how many locals and foreigners we have in Singapore. The question is how many people – both local and foreign – we can have in the Singapore global talent network,” he said.

He added that a yardstick of success should also not be how many jobs are created here for Singaporeans, but how many global companies Singapore can create and how much global talent it has access to.