SINGAPORE – With more frequent global shocks and greater economic and financial volatility expected to become a regular feature of the post-pandemic world, Singapore needs to build an even more resilient networked ecosystem, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (March 22).
The Republic’s economic transformation efforts thus far have put it in a better position to deal with these shocks, enabling businesses to respond and pivot in the changing operating environment through the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
Speaking at the Singapore Apex Business Summit, Mr Heng noted how Singapore’s industry transformation maps (ITMs) have built stronger foundations for industries, linkages within and across sectors, as well as fostered bonds between stakeholders.
“Instead of seeking to pick winners and losers, we promoted the foundations of a networked ecosystem involving all stakeholders – from the business community to our workers and unions, to the Government, and also researchers and the media,” he said.
The four-day summit, which is organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and events firm MP Singapore, is held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
Mr Heng noted that in the three years before the ITMs were established in 2016, Singapore’s productivity growth stood at 2.3 per cent per annum – better than that of most other advanced economies.
Productivity growth improved to 2.7 per cent per annum between 2016 and 2019, and this continues to increase despite Covid-19, he said.
Between 2019 and 2021, Singapore’s productivity increased by 3.9 per cent per annum, added Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
As global shocks – like the ongoing armed conflict arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has dampened the global economic outlook – become a regular part of the endemic Covid-19 world, Singapore needs to strengthen its ecosystem, he said.
Many efforts to do so are ongoing, he noted, such as investments in new capabilities and upskilling, diversification of supply chains, and bolstering of trade connectivity.
Mr Heng highlighted four key attributes which will matter most in the “next bound of resilience”: openness, innovation, sustainability and trust.
Openness has been crucial to Singapore’s success, he pointed out.
“At a time of rising nationalism and xenophobia in many parts of the world, Singapore is not immune to these forces. We must not lose sight of this foundational attribute, especially for a nation that is so dependent on trade,” he said.