Singapore must stay relevant to the region to benefit from Asia's growth: President Tony Tan

Infrastructure investment in Asian countries such as Vietnam (above) could be as high as $10.8 trillion over the 10-year period to 2020.
Infrastructure investment in Asian countries such as Vietnam (above) could be as high as $10.8 trillion over the 10-year period to 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - To ensure that Singapore can continue to benefit from Asia's growth and dynamism, it must strive to stay relevant to the region and the rest of the world, President Tony Tan said on Friday.

Singapore must remain open and adaptable to change and evolve to navigate the emerging landscape in the region, he said.

Dr Tan noted that while the advanced economies of the US, Europe and Japan continue to be Singapore's important trading and economic partners, Asia's economies will be increasingly important to Singapore.

"Asia's growth will continue to create significant opportunities for corporates, institutions and individuals," said Dr Tan at the annual DBS Asian Insights conference.

As the region develops, infrastructure investment needs alone could be as high as US$8 trillion (S$10.8 trillion) over the 10-year period to 2020. This creates tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to mobilise Asia's large pool of savings and provide capital market solutions to meet the financing needs.

There will also be greater demand for goods and services as two-thirds of the Asean population is projected to join the ranks of middle class by 2030, a 40 per cent jump from 2010.

"The growth of markets in the region also provides opportunities for home-grown entities to establish and grow their presence," he added.

Dr Tan's keynote speech rounded up an opening plenary discussion on how Singapore could future-proof its relevance for the next 50 years.

The day-long conference at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre has gathered some 800 senior executives and private investors.

While Asia's prospects are bright, the growth is not without challenges, Dr Tan noted. Income inequality, and issues related to sustainable growth and development have to be addressed in tandem with economic growth so that a broader base of people in the region can see improvements in their lives.