Singapore will focus on becoming a more resilient advanced manufacturing base for the world: DPM Heng

Mr Heng said Singapore will continue to develop its capabilities by setting standards, making strides in human capital development and strengthening international linkages.
Mr Heng said Singapore will continue to develop its capabilities by setting standards, making strides in human capital development and strengthening international linkages.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore is committed to developing and growing cutting-edge capabilities, such as in robotics and 3D printing, to position itself as a more resilient advanced manufacturing base in Asia, for the world. 

Underscoring the country’s aim to further industrial transformation and growth in the region, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Oct 20) announced initiatives to boost its manufacturing sector. 

This includes a new training programme office called the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (AMTA) that will plan ways to ensure the manufacturing workforce has emerging skills and knowledge.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (Itap) conference, Mr Heng also announced a partnership with the World Economic Forum for a global roll-out of the Singapore-developed Smart Industry Readiness Index (Siri).

These efforts aim to continue the upward momentum of the manufacturing sector, which grew about 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the first six months of 2020 despite the pandemic. Manufacturing contributes about 20 per cent to Singapore’s economy and employs about 472,000 workers.

The upcoming Jurong Innovation District (JID), which has attracted $420 million of investment this year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, is “shaping up as the one-stop advanced manufacturing hub in Singapore”, Mr Heng said, noting that companies like Siemens and Hyundai will have facilities in JID.

“Singapore can also be a more digital and more resilient advanced manufacturing base in Asia, for the world. I am glad many companies continue to keep faith with Singapore during the crisis,” he said. 

Mr Heng sketched out three ways Singapore will continue efforts to be a “Global-Asia node” for technology, innovation and enterprise. 

The first is in the area of setting standards. Mr Heng noted that the global expansion of Singapore’s Siri, which identifies ways manufacturing companies can transform to meet future challenges, will create opportunities for the country and its international partners to learn from one another.

Second, Singapore has made strides in the area of human capital development, said Mr Heng. He held up collaborations like the Global Technology Innovation Village, which will be set up by the Asian Development Bank and the Singapore Polytechnic to train regional government and business leaders in emerging tech areas such as artificial intelligence and 5G.

Third, Singapore has been working to strengthen international business linkages. Mr Heng gave the example of the German Singapore Business Forum Connect, which aims to encourage professional relationships between Singapore firms and German companies with a presence in South-east Asia.

“By working together and strengthening regional integration, South-east Asia can fulfil its potential as a regional manufacturing powerhouse,” he said.

During a dialogue where he took questions from Itap participants, Mr Heng said that Singapore has taken pains to diversify its economy by investing in various sectors, so that the country has many “engines of growth”.

“And that allows us to be better diversified, to be more resilient and also to build on the linkages across industry,” said Mr Heng, adding that Itap was a good example of the manufacturing and service industries coming together. 

Mr Heng said that an area where Singapore will be investing more in is sustainability. Noting that this issue presented challenges for countries worldwide, he said Singapore welcomes ideas and more collaboration on this front.

“We are going to invest in sustainability in our research and development work. And we look forward to collaborating because this is a global challenge, and I think only through global collaboration, can we resolve this,” he said.

In its third edition, the annual Itap conference will see world-renowned experts and industry leaders engage in discussions about the manufacturing industry.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the three-day event till Thursday is being held in a hybrid manner this year, where speakers and guests will participate in discussions in person and virtually.