Singapore will do well if it grows by 2-3% a year over next decade: PM

PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a dialogue organised by the EDB Society and The Straits Times, on Jan 20, at the Arts House.
PM Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a dialogue organised by the EDB Society and The Straits Times, on Jan 20, at the Arts House.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Singapore will have done well if it continues to grow the economy by 2 per cent to 3 per cent a year over the next 10 years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The economy, which grew by 1.8 per cent last year based on advance estimates, is on a "steady path" as a whole, he said at a dialogue organised by the EDB Society and The Straits Times.

Mr Lee sought to put the low rate of growth in perspective in reply to a question about the slowing domestic economy. He said Singapore is in a different phase now compared with when it saw annual growth of 5 per cent to 6 per cent, as the workforce was expanding rapidly then and the economy still transforming. Also, the years of double-digit growth after the 2008 global financial crisis were "exceptional", and growth has since come down to a stable level.

For this year, Mr Lee hopes the economy will pick up speed, saying there is a chance this will happen after the economy expanded in the fourth quarter of last year, aided by a rebound in manufacturing.

Investments are still coming in, and jobs are available, he added.

Mr Lee was also asked about Singapore's relations with China, new US President Donald Trump and political succession.

He noted the Republic had a broad and substantial relationship with China. While there will be differences in views from time to time, "we must be able to manage them without affecting the overall relationship", he said.

Turning towards local politics, he said the search for Singapore's next prime minister is progressing.

Separately, he told the BBC that Singapore would sign a free trade deal with Britain after it exits the European Union.

Royston Sim

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore will do well if it grows by 2-3% a year over next decade: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe