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Turn Singapore into toll gate of global trade

In times of unpredictability and uncertainty, many economies are adopting austerity measures and taking a cautious approach.

This is an opportune time for Singapore to rise up, capitalise on the silver lining in every dark cloud, and leapfrog over our competitors to forge a brighter future ("Keep head down like the rooster or carve own destiny?"; Feb 5).

We can reposition ourselves to become a global hub and a major router for trade and commerce, including e-commerce. We can redesign our economic model and re-engineer our infrastructure, capacity and capability to capitalise on the centrifugal and centripetal forces of global value chains.

In this way, whenever a business or a consumer buys or sells anything from one country to another, we can have a stake in the transaction, even if the goods and services do not physically go through Singapore. We can extract value, including financial profits, from the transaction.

Singapore will become like a high value-added toll gate of international trade and commerce.

We need to reinvent proprietary products and services to help us move up the innovation curve and food and value chains.

What needs to be done is to retrain our local enterprises, entrepreneurs and workforce to spread their wings overseas and position themselves as essential switching centres to facilitate the exchange of not just products and services but also ideas, knowledge, talents, technology and expertise.

We need to reinvent proprietary products and services to help us move up the innovation curve and food and value chains.

In doing so, we refocus on value creation and not just on value addition, and become a market maker rather than a price taker.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 12, 2017, with the headline 'Turn Singapore into toll gate of global trade'. Print Edition | Subscribe