MTI's addendum to President's Address 2020

MTI's addendum to President's Address 2020

1          The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is committed to creating opportunities for Singaporeans by helping businesses and workers adapt to a changing world economy.


A Changing World Economy


2          The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses and livelihoods. It is the most serious challenge we have faced since Independence. We will not return to the pre-COVID-19 world. We must chart a path forward together in a very different future.


3          The geopolitical environment which allowed Singapore to thrive over the past 50 years has changed. We face the prospect of a fragmented world, marked by tensions between the major powers, uneasy trade relations, and bifurcated technological standards. The merits of free trade and global integration have been increasingly questioned. The increased tensions amongst the major powers extend beyond politics and permeate trade, investment, and technology.


4          Global companies are rethinking and reorganising global production and supply chains. Some companies are reviewing the need for regional hubs in favour of a single global headquarters, and while other manufacturers may decentralise operations to strengthen their resilience. All these present challenges and opportunities for Singapore’s position as a hub for regional headquarters, high-technology manufacturing activities, and modern services.


5          Our workers will also become more exposed to global competition. COVID-19 has shown that remote working and automation are possible. Singaporeans can thus seize global opportunities out of Singapore, but our jobs are conversely more open to competition from abroad.


Reopening Our Economy Safely and Sustainably


6          MTI stands ready to take Singapore forward in this changed world. Our first step will be to open our economy safely and sustainably, because it will be difficult to generate economic growth otherwise. We will enable businesses to resume progressively and manage the risks with tight safe management measures for higherrisk 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.


7          To enable the safe resumption of international travel, we will continue to facilitate safe long-term and short-term business travel. This will help our businesses and workers tap on international opportunities and create good jobs.


Helping Our Businesses and Workers Adjust


8          MTI will also help our businesses and workers adapt. The impact of COVID-19 has been uneven. Some sectors still see growth opportunities, including biomedical sciences, electronics, financial services, and the digital economy. We will help companies in these sectors invest and expand, which will generate business for other companies and ultimately create good jobs for Singaporeans.


9          Other sectors are facing a fall in demand but will eventually recover, such as aerospace, and marine and offshore. We will preserve core capabilities that were painstakingly built up over many years, which will help these sectors remain competitive and recover quickly from this crisis. We will channel support to help companies in these sectors generate fresh revenue and become more cost efficient.


10        There are also sectors that have permanently changed, including mass market tourism and social entertainment. We will help them reinvent themselves and pivot to new markets and products. Where tough decisions are taken by businesses to cease operations or retrench workers, we will partner the Ministry of Manpower and our tripartite partners to help workers develop new skills and find new jobs, and to preserve the Singapore core of skills and capabilities.


11        To this end, we will implement new programmes that boost business investment, support local entrepreneurship, strengthen balance sheets, and incentivise hiring, ultimately creating more good jobs for Singaporeans.


Establishing the Right Conditions


12        MTI will continue to strengthen our business environment to enable businesses and workers to seize opportunities.


13        To preserve Singapore’s ability to create jobs for our people, we will strengthen our links with the world for markets, supplies, technology, and talent. We will work with like-minded partners internationally to reaffirm our shared commitment to keeping trade routes open and ensuring the continued flow of goods between Singapore and our partners. We will break new ground with Digital Economy Agreements to facilitate trade in the digital economy, providing ease and certainty to companies, and better enabling technology companies to manage their global platforms and digital services out of Singapore. We will develop multi-modal transport solutions to offer new competitive advantages to traders and logistics players using Singapore as a hub. 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.


14        We will also strengthen our existing toolkit to support businesses. For example, we will help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) strengthen their capabilities, and work through intermediaries such as Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), SME Centres, and the Heartland Enterprise Centre to reach out to the community. We will strengthen support for our startups through Startup SG and the Global Innovation Alliance, and promote internationalisation through programmes like Scale-Up SG to groom more Singapore companies to go global. We will invest in research and innovation to help businesses and workers seize new opportunities, and strengthen our pro-enterprise business environment. We will leverage our Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) to provide sector-specific support.


Emerging Stronger Together


15        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.


16        MTI will partner businesses, workers, and other stakeholders to forge a new path ahead. We will reopen our economy safely and sustainably, help businesses and workers adjust, and establish a conducive environment for businesses and workers to grow, to realise our vision of a vibrant economy with opportunities for all.


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