Few trade bodies able to lead restructuring: Foo Mee Har

There are not enough trade associations and business chambers capable of leading their industries in transformation efforts, Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) said in Parliament yesterday.

These industry federations are expected to play a pivotal role in economic restructuring through the 23 industry transformation maps.

But the task for these federations to make transformation more effective and immediate has proven to be uneven across the various industries, said Ms Foo, who cited feedback she had received.

She added that few trade associations and chambers (TACs) were able to help their members access local and international networks.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said last week that the Government will develop five-year road maps for selected TACs with strong leadership through the Local Enterprise and Association Development programme. But Ms Foo, who is also chief executive of the Wealth Management Institute at the Nanyang Technological University, believes more should be done for other TACs as well.

"I think there is an urgent need to evaluate the partnership model and support structure of how government agencies, TACs, industry players, unions and training providers can come together to accelerate deep capability development," she noted.

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) mooted the idea for trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore to help firms identify overseas opportunities and assist them to develop capabilities through innovation centres and research institutes.

Nominated MP Douglas Foo, who is president of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), said TACs can bring the business community in line with the Government's vision.

He urged TACs to break down individual walls and work with one another to pursue national objectives.

Such goals include fostering partnerships between local and foreign firms. The SMF, for instance, has signed more than 180 memoranda with TACs and government agencies here and abroad, he said.

Ng Jun Sen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'Few trade bodies able to lead restructuring: Foo Mee Har'. Print Edition | Subscribe