Singapore's openness, trustworthiness not easily replicated: Chan

This article is more than 12 months old

Many investors have set up and expanded their businesses here over the years because they see Singapore's intangible strengths, which cannot be easily replicated elsewhere, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.

These strengths include Singapore's openness and ability to be trusted, he added, citing how the country did not impose export restrictions or nationalise foreign investments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Chan said: "We kept our production lines open for global supply chains, including critical materials for surgical masks."

Singapore has also facilitated the continued flow of essential goods and people through its ports and airports.

"Throughout this crisis, we have also continued to show the world they can trust Singapore," Mr Chan said, adding that businesses have noticed.

In a national broadcast, Mr Chan noted: "When (companies) make their next investments to diversify their global production bases, we will be in the running."

He outlined how Singapore has made headway as an advocate of free trade.

An initial partnership with Brunei, Chile and New Zealand grew to become the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that was signed in 2018.

Singapore is growing its network of digital economy partnerships for companies here to grow their overseas markets.

Talks have concluded with Australia, Chile and New Zealand, with more agreements in the pipeline, Mr Chan said.

Also in the making is the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership this year, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

The free-trade agreement signatories include the 10 Asean member states, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Resilience is another one of Singapore's intangible strengths, Mr Chan said, adding that the quality is a result of networks and the diversification of source markets for supplies.

He noted how the public and private sectors opened new supply lines to bring to Singapore essential goods such as masks, personal protective equipment and test reagents amid the various lockdowns around the world three months ago.

"Many of our supply chains were disrupted, if not broken."

He cited companies involved in bringing in supplies - PSA, Singapore Airlines, Sats, ST Logistics, FairPrice, Sheng Siong and many more - and added: "Without all these unsung heroes, we would not have been able to live our lives as normally as we did in the last few months."