Singapore says it’s well-placed to ride out global slowdown

Trade-reliant Singapore is in a good position to ride out the global economy’s slowdown, with the government on track to meet its foreign investment targets this year despite mounting risks, Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing said.

Officials are “watching businesses’ investment decisions very closely,” Chan said in a prepared speech in Parliament yesterday, with the government expected to revise its 2019 growth forecast range of 1.5%-2.5% in August.

“While there are clouds looming, we believe we are well-placed to weather the storm,” he said. “Our economic fundamentals are sound, we are in a strong fiscal position, and we are making good progress in restructuring our economy.”

The Economic Development Board is still on track to achieve its foreign investment targets for 2019, he said. Some of the advantages Singapore has in attracting businesses include its stable political environment, rule of law, connectivity and infrastructure, and skilled workforce, he said.

Chan said while there are “pockets of strength” in the economy, including a robust information and communications sector and a rebound in construction, global challenges such as the U.S.-China trade dispute and Brexit will weigh on growth. Export demand has weakened in some critical sectors, including electronics, precision engineering and wholesale trade, he said.

Despite a restart in U.S.-China trade talks, Singapore is concerned that the two nations have fundamental disagreements that will put ongoing pressure on business and consumer confidence.

The minister also highlighted initiatives that will help Singapore’s economy remain attractive:

They include the development of “additive” manufacturing and advanced materials, including to support the electric vehicles industry, as well as the recruitment of biotech firms from abroad to help develop precision medicine.

The government also wants to explore a tourism site at Jurong Lake District and developing Mandai and the Greater Southern Waterfront, and use a new “innovation park” in Sungei Kadut to explore agri- tech ambitions, including through indoor plant factories, insect farms, animal feed production facilities. MDT/Bloomberg

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