Exports of services grew more than twice as fast as those of goods in the past 10 years, underscoring the rising importance of the sector, an International Enterprise (IE) Singapore official said yesterday.
IE Singapore chief executive Teo Eng Cheong said that service exports hit a 10-year high of $178 billion last year, with compound annual growth of 10 per cent in the past decade.
Financial service exports have grown even faster, with a compound annual growth of 15 per cent in the past 10 years, and comprised 15 per cent of Singapore's total export of services last year, he said.
Total trade in goods last year reached $982 billion, while the Singapore port is the world's top transhipment hub, with about 85 per cent of its containers holding cargo that is loaded from one ship to another without landing here.
"We have one of the highest trade-to-GDP ratios in the world, reflecting the openness of our trading environment and strength of our manufacturing sector," added Mr Teo, who was speaking at the GTR Asia Trade & Export Finance Conference.
Singapore, the world's 13th-largest importer and exporter, also has a sizeable offshore trade sector, where global trading decisions and operations are done out of the Republic. This includes commodity trading.
Last year, Singapore's offshore trade volume hit an all-time high of US$1.3 trillion (S$1.85 trillion), or 4 per cent of GDP. This sector, which employs more than 14,000 people, thrived because global traders are able to get real-time information, financing from banks and capital markets here, and can manage their risks and operations from Singapore, noted Mr Teo.
He attributed Singapore's evolution into a global trading hub to its skilled labour force, its role as a global financial hub, and connectivity provided by its port and airport to more than 600 ports and 180 cities around the world.
IE Singapore has also partnered with Nanyang Technological University to develop an international trading programme that started its first intake last month. The programme provides training in trade-related courses.