Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the press conference for the sectoral company visit to DuPont

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the press conference for the sectoral company visit to DuPont

1. Good morning. Today, we are here at DuPont, which is part of the energy and chemicals sector. Over the years, our energy and chemicals sector has developed extensive capabilities in global value chains – from refining, to petrochemicals production, to specialty chemical manufacturing. Going forward,  we expect to go into the specialty chemicals sector in a bigger way, in terms of the upstream R&D and in production.

2. Today, Singapore ranks as one of the top ten global chemicals export hubs and one of the top five refinery export hubs. This is no mean feat for a small country without natural resources. 

3. The energy and chemicals sector plays an important part in our lives and increasingly so. Besides the production of essential fuel, chemicals  are critical input for the manufacturing of products that we are familiar with. This sector is also an increasingly important ingredient in the food, health and lifestyle sciences sector. Some of the products that we are familiar with include diapers, rubber tires, surgical masks and smartphones. Behind these products, there is a story of how the chemicals are being produced, and how they have been produced in an increasingly sustainable and environmentally friendly way. 

4. Within the energy and chemicals sector, there are growing opportunities for Singapore, especially in the speciality chemicals sector. There are a few trends that will shape the sector in the coming years, and they play to Singapore’s strengths. 

5. Increasingly, people are not just looking at the conventional chemicals sector, but are looking for specialty chemicals, which will allow them to produce products that are much more environmentally friendly and sustainable. This is one trend.  

6. The second trend is that one of the fastest growing markets for the specialty chemicals sector is  Asia Pacific. Within Asia Pacific, there is great diversity in market demands. Every country and region has different tastes and requirements. This will require the specialty chemicals industry to be able to customise their products to the unique needs of different countries. This is where Singapore has an advantage compared to many other countries. 

7. First, being situated in Southeast Asia and the wider Asia Pacific, we are able to be a platform for many of these chemicals and specialty chemicals companies to base off Singapore, and as a platform to serve the regional market, knowing their diverse needs and tastes. 

8. The second factor that is in our favour is the logistic chains that are available in Singapore. As customisation and specialisation become more important, the reliability of supply chains will correspondingly need to be improved. This plays to the advantage that Singapore can provide to many of these specialty chemicals companies. 

9. The third point goes back to intellectual property. Increasingly, it is not just about the production of conventional chemicals, but customised chemicals and specialty chemicals. Many other companies will be concerned with R&D and  intellectual property protection. Because of our healthy intellectual property protection framework and regulatory framework, Singapore is in a good position to ride on this trend to serve the wider market. 

10. If you look at these few trends – the need for more sustainable solutions, greater customisation and intellectual property protection, and a reliable logistics chain, all these four factors play to Singapore’s strengths going forward, as a specialty chemicals hub. We have every intention to continue to attract global MNCs and to grow our own domestic companies in order to service this growing market.

11. To cite some proof points of what we have been able to achieve over the last few years; notwithstanding the COVID pandemic, Arkema, a French chemicals manufacturer,  invested a few hundred million dollars in Singapore in 2020 to manufacture bio-based polymer using castor oil as a raw material, which is a renewable carbon source compared to fossil oil. 

12. In 2018, Afton invested more than S$200 million in its lubricant additive expansion in Singapore, which helps to make the transportation sector more efficient through highly engineered lubricants. These are long-term investments that will create good jobs for Singaporeans. 

13. If we look at the wage outcomes for Singaporeans working in this sector, the wages, in particular that of the specialty chemicals sector, are at the top end of our overall manufacturing sector and are creating many good and high-paying jobs for fellow Singaporeans. Today, our energy and chemicals sector employs over 25,000 people. More than 70% of these employees in the chemicals sector are locals. 

14. You will also be able to interview some of the employees here, including Ms. Xue Si-Ying, who started as a banking application specialist with DuPont over 10 years ago and now leads the ASEAN innovation team.

15. Today, we are also encouraged to announce that DuPont, one of the world's leading specialty chemicals companies, is announcing an additional investment in its enzyme blending facility in Singapore. This facility is unique to us as it brings new capabilities that DuPont has for its worldwide global supply chains. It will entrench Singapore in the global supply chain  not only for DuPont’s products, but many other products in this sub-sector. 

16. The other unique feature about this facility is that it is able to help us to customise products for the regional market. Beyond greener solutions, we are also looking at customised solutions. Hence, the addition of DuPont’s facility in Singapore will allow us to strengthen our position in DuPont’s global value chain and serve the fast growing market with more diverse and customised products. This will also create new and highly skilled manufacturing jobs and grow DuPont’s workforce in Singapore, which currently employs nearly 300 people in the sector. 

17. DuPont has been a pioneer investor in Singapore, establishing its presence here since 1973. We are very happy to continue to partner DuPont to grow its operations and its R&D capabilities out of Singapore to serve the regional market. DuPont’s investment is a long-term commitment, a sign of confidence in Singapore strengths and a testament to our position as a leading chemicals hub for the Asia Pacific region.

18. When I spoke to DuPont’s executives this morning and asked them how we can do better and the areas that attracted them to Singapore, they mentioned the factors that I have just mentioned. These factors are the strong logistics supply chains and intellectual property protection that we have put in place, our ability to bring in talented teams to work together to customise the products for the regional market, and an increasing awareness of how Singapore can play a role in the global sustainability agenda. 

19. These four factors will continue to put us in good stead. We will also continue to compete strongly to bring in more of such investments to Singapore and to create better jobs for Singaporeans.

20. Beyond attracting investments, we are also making investments in innovation. With the S$25 billion set aside for the RIE 2025 plan, there will be many opportunities for our R&D institutions to work with leading edge companies like DuPont to produce new, better and more customised products for the region. By combining R&D with industrial capabilities, we will be able to continue to enjoy a strong position in this sector and as part of the global value chain. 

21. Thank you.

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