Business

Businesses must consider making bold moves: Chan Chun Sing

Chan Chun Sing urges businesses to go global

With uncertainties mounting and trade tensions growing, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing yesterday asked businesses to consider taking a bold option.

They should venture into new emerging markets to fully tap the opportunities in the global economy, he said.

"They need to be ready to take the risk, and the Government will do what we can to help the internationalisation of our companies," said Mr Chan at the National Centre for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Executive Forum.

Mr Chan acknowledged that muted global demand is expected to weigh on Singapore's growth this year, with recent data suggesting that outward-oriented sectors will likely remain weak.

But he said that as companies take risks and expand, Singaporeans should stay alert and not be afraid.

"While the journey ahead of us may be challenging, we have what it takes to tackle these challenges head-on."

He then listed some of the strengths that could help Singapore tap opportunities being created among uncertainties.

Said Mr Chan: "Singapore continues to be a safe harbour for companies looking to invest in the region, and we are seen as a hub for talent, intellectual property protection, innovation and research and development.

"We maintain a principled stance on issues, even in an increasingly polarising environment due to ongoing trade tensions, and we continue to stand for free trade."

Singapore is also investing heavily in educating and training a skilled workforce that can take advantage of new opportunities created.

"The potential on the digital economy front is tremendous and our people must be ready. The digital economy is the next frontier for the Singapore economy to transcend our geography and geographical size."

Companies and workers also have a part to play, he added.

At a fireside chat after the speech, Mr Chan said it is important to take everyone along in a country's economic journey.

LEFT BEHIND

He said: "There is a more important reason for us to do this beyond economics. In many countries, in times of rapid disruption, the middle-income workers get left behind… and they do not see the benefits of globalisation.

"They begin to ask themselves why they should support these new technologies and openness to global trade.

"There will be a local pushback with global consequences."

Such pushback can take the form of a greater desire for populist leaders who can promise solutions by shutting out competition and withdrawing from the global system.

"To keep a country cohesive and progressive, we need to get on a positive spiral, muster the political will and resources to help everyone keep pace," he added.

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