Singapore has to renew economy, train people to stay ahead: Chan Chun Sing

ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun SingST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Wholesale distributor Hai Sia Seafood might have started from a hawker centre in Queenstown, but is now expanding to overseas markets after it used automation to increase productivity.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday cited the local company as an example of how firms can grow and become more competitive as Singapore rides out the economic downturn.

Speaking at a National Day dinner at Tanjong Pagar Community Club, Mr Chan noted how Hai Sia Seafood has transformed digitally to improve its business processes and increase productivity.

He held up the company as a success story and an example of what Singapore can achieve if the Government, businesses and workers worked closely together.

In a 40-minute speech, the minister set out the factors behind the challenging global environment, and the strategies being adopted to help Singapore stay ahead.

He said the country has to renew its economy, by transforming existing industries and developing new growth areas such as in agri-technology, precision medicine and smart mobility.

Technology has allowed Singapore to move beyond land constraints, and aim to be a significant food hub, he said.

Mr Chan noted that food production is not just about farms, but also about meeting the increasing need for proteins in a rapidly rising Asia.

BUILDING CAPABILITIES

What we must do is to make sure that whatever measures we implement to help our businesses and people are sustainable, and not short-term measures to artificially boost demand... Instead, they build real capabilities for us to compete on the global stage.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING, speaking at a National Day dinner.

"If we can do that in high-tech, high-density farming, precision farming, it will open up a new vista for all of us," he added.

Singapore can learn from the Netherlands in this aspect, Mr Chan said, adding that the European country has managed to transcend its size to be known as the food basket of the continent.

Lifelong learning is another area that the Government will continue to invest in, he added.

 
 
 
 

Mr Chan said that while the Government has invested more than $250,000 in every Singaporean's education and training, this investment is not sufficient.

Efforts to strengthen education and training must continue, he added.

The Government is making sure young people have the best opportunities possible, and that seniors who can and want to work can continue contributing to society, Mr Chan said.

"What we must do is to make sure that whatever measures we implement to help our businesses and people are sustainable, and not short-term measures to artificially boost demand... Instead, they build real capabilities for us to compete on the global stage."

The global environment has become more complex and volatile as the United States and China have not settled their trade issues and the risk of a no-deal Brexit grows, Mr Chan noted.

Many countries are also struggling with high unemployment, as they have not been successful at helping their businesses and workers adjust to keep pace with the rapidly changing world.

Wages of the middle class have also stagnated in some countries, resulting in resentment, unhappiness and division in their societies.

Mr Chan also highlighted the need to seize new opportunities, for instance by continuing to create real value through innovation.

He also stressed building upon fundamentals such as a stable and pro-business environment, having a skilled workforce and tripartism.

"The more chaotic the world is, the more important these fundamentals are to us in distinguishing ourselves," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore has to renew economy, train people to stay ahead: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe