Singapore gets MNCs' vote of confidence

(From left) EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin; Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss; Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Emerson's president Edward Monser; Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang; and United States Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar a
(From left) EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin; Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss; Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Emerson's president Edward Monser; Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang; and United States Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar at the award ceremony yesterday.PHOTO: EDB

EDB award recipients Emerson, Infineon reaffirm their commitment

TWO leading multinationals yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to Singapore as it remains attractive even amid a weak manufacturing sector and tight labour market conditions.

Executives of Emerson Electric and Infineon Technologies made the comments after receiving the Distinguished Partner in Progress Award from the Government at a ceremony held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The prestigious award, administered by the Economic Development Board (EDB), recognises firms which have significantly contributed to Singapore's economic growth and community interests.

Emerson is a Fortune 500 manufacturing company that provides solutions for the infrastructure and industrial sectors. Infineon is one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturing companies.

Emerson president Edward Monser told The Straits Times that Singapore's "strongest attribute" was its ability to attract talent from around Asia.

"If we want to hire a PhD mathematician in India and say the work is going to be done in Singapore, and they go home and talk to their family, their family will say, 'Yes we'll go to Singapore.'

"They might not go some place else," he said.

He said that although the labour market is competitive, such is the case "everywhere".

Mr Hans-Martin Stech, chief financial officer of Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific, said demand for his firm's products remains strong despite weakness in the semiconductor sector.

"We don't see a dip (in production). Our factory is fully loaded and will remain fully loaded until the end of the calendar year."

He added that the manufacturing sector would continue to be relevant to the economy.

"I think Singapore is committed to continue to have around 20 per cent of gross domestic product coming from manufacturing. Of course, the nature of manufacturing will change; it will become less labour-intensive and more automated," he said.

Mr Stech said Infineon will invest around $50 million annually in Singapore, but the figure can vary by about 20 per cent.

Emerson, which has invested more than US$70 million (S$94 million) in the past five years, plans to further invest in its research and development and product development activities here.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who presented the award, thanked the two companies for being "key players in Singapore's transition to high- skill, high-value industry", and creating "quality jobs" for Singaporeans.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang and EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin were also at the event.

jkoh@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore gets MNCs' vote of confidence'. Print Edition | Subscribe