Addendum to President's Address: S'pore's economy has to reopen safely and sustainably, says Chan Chun Sing

Sectors that have changed permanently, like mass market tourism, will get support to pivot to new markets and products.
Sectors that have changed permanently, like mass market tourism, will get support to pivot to new markets and products. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - For Singapore to grow, it needs to reopen its economy safely and sustainably, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Aug 26).

This requires businesses to resume their operations progressively, with tight safe management measures in place for higher-risk activities.

"We will expand our testing and contact tracing capacity significantly, so that we can isolate clusters swiftly and effectively, to allow the rest of the economy to continue operating," Mr Chan said in his ministry's addendum to the President's Address.

The MTI will also facilitate safe business travel, both short term and long term, with a view to eventually resuming international travel.

It is one way to help businesses and workers tap global opportunities and create good jobs, the minister said.

The MTI is among five ministries and agencies that released their addenda on Wednesday. The others are: Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and National Research Foundation.

The MTI's addendum, which sets out a slew of its priorities in the new term of government, also pointed to another major move Singapore needs to undertake: bolstering its connectivity and hub status.

This includes building up links with the world for markets, supplies, technology and talent.

In addition, it will work with like-minded partners to reaffirm a shared commitment to keeping trade routes open and ensuring the continued flow of goods between countries.

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"We will develop multimodal transport solutions to offer new competitive advantages to traders and logistics players using Singapore as a hub," Mr Chan said.

"This improved connectivity will also enable companies to diversify their supply sources and reach more customers more readily, increasing their resilience against the risk of supply chain disruption."

Trade in the digital economy will also get a boost through Digital Economy Agreements.

These agreements provide ease and certainty to companies, and can better enable technology companies to use Singapore as the location for managing their global platforms and digital services, the minister added.

He assured Singaporeans and businesses of the Government's commitment to creating opportunities for them, by helping them to adapt to a changing world economy.

The MTI will work through such intermediaries as trade associations and chambers, SME Centres and the Heartland Enterprise Centre to help businesses grow, transform and internationalise.

For sectors that continue to see growth opportunities, such as biomedical sciences, electronics, financial services and the digital economy, the ministry will help them invest and expand.

For those that suffered a plunge in demand but will eventually recover, such as the aerospace, and marine and offshore sectors, their core capabilities will be preserved so that they can remain competitive and recover quickly from the crisis.

"We will channel support to help companies in these sectors generate fresh revenue and become more cost-efficient," Mr Chan said.

For sectors that have changed permanently, including mass market tourism and social entertainment, support will be available for them to pivot to new markets and products.

But he cautioned that not all businesses and jobs can be saved.

He, however, assured those who are retrenched that they will receive help to develop new skills and find new jobs.

"We are confronting this crisis from a position of strength. Our hard-won reputation for transparency, rule of law, skilled workforce and world-class connectivity are significant advantages, and will enable us to adapt to the challenging environment," he added.

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