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Big jump in investments last year set to create 32,000 jobs in Singapore

17 Jan, 2020

S'poreans to get most new jobs, says minister; half of the roles are linked to digital economy

The projects committed to last year are expected to contribute $29.4 billion in value-added per annum - the direct contribution to Singapore's gross domestic product. PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Despite a challenging year weighed down by global economic uncertainties, Singapore beat expectations for investment commitments last year.

It secured $15.2 billion in investments last year, which are expected to create more than 32,000 jobs over the coming years, the Economic Development Board (EDB) announced at its year in review yesterday. The vast majority of these jobs will go to Singaporeans, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

This would be in line with the trend seen between 2015 and 2018. Some 60,000 jobs were created during that period, of which 50,000 were taken up by Singa-poreans, said Mr Chan.

Large manufacturing investments from semiconductor as well as energy and chemical companies were key to the surge in investments last year. Technology firm Micron expanded its presence here with a multibillion-dollar investment, while gas giant Linde pumped in $1.9 billion to quadruple its footprint in the Republic by 2023.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said that the strong investment commitment numbers reflect companies' confidence in Singapore's strong fundamentals and its strategic position in a fast-growing Asia.

The $15.2 billion worth of investment commitments beat EDB's forecast of $8 billion to $10 billion for the year, and exceeded 2018's $10.9 billion figure. The electronics industry accounted for some 28.4 per cent of investments. When fully implemented, the projects will create 32,814 jobs, almost double the forecast of 16,000 to 18,000 positions.

Close to half of these jobs will be in the digital economy, and around 60 per cent to 70 per cent will be jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), noted Dr Beh.

Mr Chan highlighted that while Singapore drew strong commitments last year, it has no room to be complacent as there is global competition for talent in sectors such as information and communications, robotics and deep technology.

The projects committed to last year are expected to contribute $29.4 billion in value-added per annum - the direct contribution to Singapore's gross domestic product. Total business expenditure, which refers to companies' incremental annual operating expenditure, such as on wages and rental, was $9 billion last year. This exceeded the forecast $5 billion to $7 billion.

EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong highlighted three reasons for the strong investment commitments last year: Singapore's position at the heart of a growing Asia which provides companies with access to the booming region, trust in the Republic and the stability it offers, and the sophisticated capabilities of its economy.

He said EDB will continue to strengthen Singapore's position as a platform for companies to tap opportunities in the region, reinforce its role as a hub for companies to develop digital solutions, and support companies in innovation. Mr Sanjiv Lamba, Linde Asia-Pacific chief executive, said that the company's $1.9 billion commitment to Singapore last year was its largest worldwide.

"For over 20 years, Linde has continuously strengthened our presence and operations in Singapore through multiple investments, made possible by its excellent infrastructure, abundant highly skilled workforce, and stable and friendly business environment," he said.

Meanwhile, EDB is moving away from yearly forecasts to long-to medium-term ones to reflect how companies plan their investment positions. From this multi-year perspective, EDB still expects to draw $8 billion to $10 billion in investment commitments and create around 16,000 to 18,000 expected jobs yearly. Investment commitments for 2020 should come in above the forecast based on the pipeline of projects, said Mr Chng.

Adapted From The Straits Times, Jan 17 2020