Singapore must get fundamentals right to stay competitive, says Chan

Singapore's ranking as the world's most competitive economy is encouraging, but it has to continue to create opportunities for its people and businesses, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Noting that competition is becoming more intense globally, he said yesterday in a Facebook post that "to stay competitive, Singapore, as a small and open economy, must ensure that we continue to get our fundamentals right".

Singapore cannot afford to compete on cost or size, but can focus on connectivity, quality and creativity, he added. "We must leverage the brand of trust and standards that we have become known for, and continue to be a safe harbour for partnerships and collaboration."

Mr Chan's comments follow the Republic's jump from third place last year to reclaim the title of the world's most competitive economy, an accolade it last achieved in 2010.

Singapore beat the United States and Hong Kong to top the ranking by Swiss business school IMD, which looks at how well 63 economies do in four categories: economic performance, infrastructure, government efficiency and business efficiency.

In his post, Mr Chan said Singapore has to continue to diversify its linkages to access more markets, stay open and be plugged into talent, technology, data and finance flows.

"We must also enable our enterprises to boost their capabilities and scale up, while ensuring our workers are equipped with the skills - not just for today's jobs, but the jobs of tomorrow too."

Mr Chan added that while trade tensions and protectionism have led to an uncertain economic outlook, there are still opportunities "so long as we continue to build upon what we have achieved and stay true to our fundamentals".

"With this, I am confident we can continue to distinguish ourselves from the competition," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2019, with the headline Singapore must get fundamentals right to stay competitive, says Chan. Subscribe