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Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at “Singapore – Leading Supply Chain Management Hub in Asia” Event (Organised by EDB, WSG, SBF)

Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at “Singapore – Leading Supply Chain Management Hub in Asia” Event (Organised by EDB, WSG, SBF)

Distinguished guests

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Introduction

 

1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you here.

 

2. Supply chain management, or SCM, plays a significant role in Singapore’s economy and our position as a leading logistics hub and one of the world’s most connected countries. SCM can make or break a company’s success. For this reason, businesses make careful decisions surrounding SCM and the locations of their operations.  The wide-ranging disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of SCM. Today, growing uncertainties created by geostrategic changes further underscore the need for companies to strengthen their SCM as a critical flank of their business.

 

3. This morning, over two panel discussions, we will delve into the key trends and developments that impact global supply chains, and explore the effects of the shifts in companies’ supply chain networks in the Asia Pacific.  I look forward to gaining fresh insights and hearing from the many senior business leaders and supply chain leaders here today.

 

4. Today, Singapore is home to a growing base of SCM hubs and best-in-class distribution as well as logistics operations.

 

  a. Allow me to cite a few examples, P&G’s Product Supply Hub, which is based here in Singapore, optimises planning and manages risks for demand and supply across the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. This ensures that 19 end markets have over 7,500 individual products available on the shelves.

 

5. Regional and global distribution activities such as DB Schenker’s Red Lion Regional Distribution Centre and Pepperl+Fuchs’ Global Distribution Centre are also located here.

 

6. I am pleased to share that Maersk will be setting up a second Regional Distribution Centre here. A new Omni-channel fulfilment facility, it will anchor Singapore as a major logistics hub in the supply chain network, serving high-value verticals such as healthcare, lifestyle, footwear and apparel, as well as consumable products.

 

7. The presence of these SCM hubs attests to our strong and attractive proposition for companies to centralise and orchestrate their regional supply chain management activities here. Singapore as a neutral and trusted location and hub to manage, orchestrate and integrate your companies’ pan-Asian SCM activities and capabilities here.

 

8. As manufacturing networks expand in SEA and Singapore, companies are developing their SCM capabilities in this region to orchestrate the four main activities of ‘plan, source, make, deliver’ in the supply chain. This is creating new opportunities for Singapore.

 

9. Today, I come representing MTI and our EDB colleagues are here. We are mobilising multi-concerted efforts from Whole-of-Government, hence our colleagues from Workforce Singapore are here and also our trade and industry associations. Recently, EDB partnered with Gartner to survey how companies are diversifying their Asia Pacific supply chains in response to the risks and disruptions present today. The findings revealed that 48% of business leaders with supply chain operations in Asia Pacific plan to expand their manufacturing capacity in Southeast Asia over the next 3 years. Despite some global and economic uncertainties, it is clear that the Global  economic gravity is moving  towards Southeast Asia. This is a place where they need to think abour recruitment, investment decisions and make sure that they find a location to manage, orchestrate and integrate their pan-Asian SCM capabilities. The main goals are to cater for future growth while mitigating geopolitical risk, and improving the agility and flexibility in their supply chain network. Singapore offers compelling reasons for companies to anchor their SCM activities here.

 

10. I would like to share with you two important reasons so that we can work together to develop a vibrant and robust Supply Chain Management ecosystem.

 

11. First, Singapore has a strong connectivity network, encompassing both physical and trade connectivity.

 

12. We are one of the most globally connected countries and the busiest transhipment port in the world. In the next decade, Tuas Port will be the world’s largest fully automated port with a capacity of 65 million TEUs[1], capable of handling the largest container ships in the world. Meanwhile, with the expansion of its fifth terminal, Changi Airport will increase its annual air cargo handling capacity by 80% when the new Changi East Industrial Zone is ready.

 

13. Our trade connectivity is another key pull and attractive factor. Today, Singapore has a robust network of 27 FTAs which helps to enhance trade efficiency for businesses. Singapore is also part of the ongoing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with 13 other partner countries, including the US, Japan, South Korea and some ASEAN members. The IPEF Supply Chain Agreement, which was recently finalised to a significant extent, provides a platform for close coordination and collaboration amongst the partners. It will help us map and monitor supply chain developments, and better understand and respond to potential supply chain risks. I would like to assure you that we will continue to pursue international partnerships with like-minded countries to promote greater trust, openness, and resilience in global supply chains.

 

14. As the global economy and business models worldwide increasingly embrace digitalisation, Singapore has started building a network of Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs) with partners across the globe. The agreements aim to promote digital trade, enhance digital connectivity, and facilitate interoperability. The DEAs also put in place ambitious rules and frameworks to foster the interoperability of standards and systems,  as well as reduce business operating costs and barriers to digital trade. To date, we have four DEAs with five countries, namely Australia, Chile, South Korea, New Zealand and the UK. There are also ongoing or upcoming negotiations with the European Free Trade Association, European Union, and at the ASEAN and WTO levels.

 

15. In addition to excellent connectivity infrastructure, many of you tell us that what sets Singapore apart is our consistent and strong commitment to keeping our trade lanes and ports open even in times of crisis. We still remember in the past three years during COVID, When the whole world was short off masks, commodities and vaccines, we always stayed committed to keep our trade links and ports open. Singapore continued to provide much-needed connectivity to the world. Our PSA port played the role of a “catch-up” port to help connect and expedite shipments to different parts of the world.

 

16. Secondly, our strong bench strength of SCM talent will empower companies as they strengthen their SCM capabilities to serve regional growth markets.

 

17. Singapore is home to approximately 70,000 SCM professionals. Every year, our Institutes of Higher Learning produce some 3,600 graduates with the requisite skillsets to take on SCM job roles. To support the growth of SCM hubs and activities, we will continue to expand our pool of SCM professionals and deepen their expertise.

 

18. To ensure that our workforce remains relevant and competitive, the Government is supporting companies in training their workers, and helping our local job seekers acquire relevant and emerging SCM skill sets.

 

19. I am happy to share that to this end, EDB and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) are co-developing an SCM Skills Plan, which will be launched on 31 July 2023. It is a one-stop reference guide to equip stakeholders, such as companies’ in-house training teams, as well as schools and training providers. I want to assure that we did not design this in isolation, we curated this alongside with you, based on your feedback, because we want this guide to future ready and industry relevant. The guide will provide up-to-date trends that are shaping  SCM jobs and information on the type of skill sets that are in demand. These insights will guide training providers in curriculum development and help enterprises enhance their in-house SCM training programmes, and help workers get equipped with the necessary skills to upskill and reskill for a rewarding career in SCM.

 

20. The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and o9 Solutions, a globally leading software provider, are joining hands to offer a pilot Masterclass.

 

21. The new pilot Masterclass, coordinated by EDB and WSG, aims to address the emerging skills required in advanced planning and is scheduled to run in the third quarter of this year.

 

22. At the same time, our Institutes of Higher Learning are enhancing their existing SCM curriculum to impart technical SCM competencies.

 

23. SUSS and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) currently offer a Bachelor's programme in SCM that impart technical skillsets such as optimization and simulation for decision-making and the design of supply chain solutions. SUSS will be introducing a new SCM postgraduate programme – a graduate diploma in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, which will be launched in January 2024.

 

24. Key industry partners are also contributing to these concerted efforts to upskill and equip the workforce with sector-specific SCM skillsets.

 

25. The Singapore Fashion Council will launch courses in the areas of Digital Product Creation and Textile Circularity, as well as a programme on responsible and sustainable fashion supply chains. So we look forward to having the SCM industry work with our different industry associations to develop sector specific  industry skillsets like what the Singapore Fashion Council has done. All of you are because you are business and supply chain leaders. I would like to assure you that the Singapore Government is working hand-in-hand with industry as well as the trade and industry associations to mull concerted efforts to develop a strong pipeline of future ready and industry relevant SCM talent, to support your expansion, in anchoring your SCM capabilities here, to manage, orchestrate and integrate your pan-Asian SCM activities.

 

Conclusion

 

26. To maintain our shine and competitiveness as a leading SCM and logistics hub, Singapore will continue to invest in the SCM sector and its people. We look forward to engaging in regular dialogues with senior business and supply chain leaders via platforms like today’s SCM Event. As we work together to strengthen our regional supply chain footprint and build emerging SCM capabilities, we will capture the growing horizon of opportunities this region offers.

 

27. I wish all of you a fruitful and engaging session this morning as you network, build new connections, and glean valuable insights from the exchange of best practices and diverse perspectives in SCM. Thank you.

 
 


[1] Acronym used in logistics meaning ‘Twenty Equipment Unit’ or in other terms a ’20 foot container’.

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