A new US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) complex on Jurong Island by industrial gases and engineering group Linde is to be fully operational by 2023, and set to quadruple its capacity here to produce and supply hydrogen and synthesis gas. A key reason for this is to support the multibillion-dollar expansion of ExxonMobil Asia-Pacific's integrated manufacturing complex, which will be its main client. These related developments testify not only to Singapore's capabilities and potential as the world's fifth-largest petroleum exporter but also to its larger ability to be an attractive investment destination in globally difficult times. For example, Dyson, the British consumer electronics maker, will build an electric car manufacturing facility here as part of a £2 billion (S$3.4 billion) move into motor vehicles. Also, GlaxoSmithKline, the British pharmaceutical giant, last month unveiled a $130 million manufacturing facility and an expanded production building in Jurong. Such investments are of no small comfort as the Republic feels the chilling effects of disruption in the world economy accelerated by the trade war between the United States and China. That war has just begun.
Ironically, however, the threat of economic discontinuity elsewhere gives companies another good reason to move to a country known for its pro-business policies, long-term planning and stable politics. These attributes have been at the heart of Singapore's competitiveness ever since it decided to embark on being an export-oriented economy that would overhaul its internal workings to meet the demands of the global market. That move paid handsome dividends. In a recent acknowledgement of the distance that the country has travelled since the 1960s, a report by Swiss business school IMD this year ranked Singapore as the world's most competitive economy, followed by Hong Kong and the US. According to IMD, Singapore's rise to the top was facilitated by its advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labour, favourable immigration laws and efficient ways to set up new businesses. These qualities attest to the adage that business is Singapore's business.