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Written reply to PQ on opportunities in a COVID-19 endemic environment

Written reply to PQ on opportunities in a COVID-19 endemic environment

Question

Mr Cheng Hsing Yao: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what are the economic opportunities for Singapore in an environment where COVID-19 is endemic.

Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Gan Kim Yong

1. In an endemic COVID-19 environment, the virus will survive in our community, similar to common diseases like flu and chicken pox. With effective vaccination, testing, and treatment regimes in place, fewer people will need hospitalisation or medication.

2. Economic activity will progressively normalise as we reopen the domestic economy and our borders. But the virus may continue to mutate, periodically leading to new variants and outbreaks.  We have put in place measures to respond quickly to outbreaks, if necessary.

3. We have been working closely with the industry to enable us to seize opportunities when economic activity resumes, building on the momentum of our Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) and recommendations from the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST).

4. For example, we will position Singapore as a critical node in the growing digital economy, by strengthening our connectivity in the digital economy through a network of Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs), platforms like Business sans Borders, and supporting more businesses to digitalise.

5. As part of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, we will also help our enterprises and workforce to harness sustainability as a competitive advantage, and develop innovative solutions for the green economy. For example, we aim to grow Singapore into a carbon trading and services hub, and a green financing hub.

6. COVID-19 has also surfaced new economic opportunities. For example, the increased focus on health and wellness could open up new opportunities in the biopharmaceutical sector, while the desire to build more robust supply chains could create new demand for our logistics companies. There are also new areas of opportunity in agri-tech, as we strive to strengthen our food resilience.

7. We can pursue these opportunities successfully only if we keep our fundamentals strong, and our economy competitive.

8. We must acknowledge our natural disadvantages as a small, resource-scarce economy. But our growth prospects need not be limited by our size and we can grow beyond these limitations, as evidenced by our pipeline of investments even during the pandemic.  However, we cannot take our growth for granted, as other economies are fast raising their game.

 9. An endemic COVID-19 situation will bring fresh opportunities to rebuild our competitive strengths and to develop new strengths. We hope to partner businesses and workers over the next few years in seizing these opportunities and emerge stronger together.

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