Singapore

Future of semiconductor industry remains bright: DPM Heng

Despite slowdown, investments in the sector here reflect confidence in Singapore's approach

The current slowdown in the global semiconductor industry does not dim its prospects, as there is fresh demand driven by the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and mobility services, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, added that investments in the sector here reflect a long-term strategic perspective and affirm Singapore's approach to its economy.

He was referring to European chipmaker STMicroelectronics, which officially expanded its wafer fabrication facility in Ang Mo Kio yesterday - more than doubling its capacity.

The expanded facility adds more than 400 jobs here and is its largest such production site by volume, making up more than two-fifths of the company's output.

This is the second major wafer fabrication facility that Mr Heng has launched in two months, following US-based global semiconductor company Micron Technology's expansion last month.

"ST's latest investment here is in line with its strategic perspective, because the future of the global semiconductor industry is bright, despite the slowdown today," Mr Heng said at the opening of the STMicroelectronics facility yesterday.

His comments come amid official expectations of a full-year manufacturing decline here, with the latest Enterprise Singapore data released yesterday showing that non-oil domestic exports fell again last month.

In particular, electronics exports were down 25.9 per cent year on year, steeper than the previous month's 24.2 per cent drop.

Mr Heng attributed the semiconductor slowdown largely to global economic uncertainties and weaker demand from some end-markets, especially consumer electronics.

There are more than 60 semiconductor companies in the Republic, making up 11 per cent of global market share. The industry forms about 7 per cent of Singapore's economy.

But the Deputy Prime Minister remained optimistic.

The global automotive industry semiconductor market - for electric vehicles and autonomous ones - is expected to expand from US$37.4 billion (S$51.4 billion) in 2017 to over US$58.5 billion in 2023.

STMicroelectronics chief ex-ecutive Jean-Marc Chery said Singapore is a "strategic location" for its investment, with pro-business policies as well as a highly educated and skilled workforce.

BUSINESS & FINANCE