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Scope for more public-private partnerships in precision engineering sector: Iswaran

There is scope for more public-private partnerships to drive transformation in the precision engineering sector and help companies climb the value chain, said Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran on Thursday.

SINGAPORE: There is scope for more public-private partnerships to drive transformation in the precision engineering sector and help companies climb the value chain.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said this on Thursday at the opening of Kulicke & Soffa's global headquarters, a flagship manufacturing hub and global R&D centre in Singapore.

Mr Iswaran said efforts to deepen manpower and R&D capabilities have helped companies to move up the value chain and boosted the sector's value-added, with an annual growth rate of 7.3 percent in the last 5 years.

Citing Kulicke & Soffa as an example, he said the company has created "highly-productive" jobs for Singaporeans.

One key to its success is being positioned at the forefront of technology and a willingness to explore emerging technologies.

Kulicke & Soffa, a manufacturer of semiconductor and LED assembly equipment, is listed on NASDAQ. It currently employs 570 people in Singapore -- 90 percent of whom are skilled locals.

Mr Iswaran said the productivity level of workers at Kulicke & Soffa is significantly higher than the industry average.

Data from the Singapore Economic Development Board showed that the industry average for value-add per worker for the precision engineering sector was S$83,700 in 2013, up from S$83,300 a year ago.

In 2012, the precision engineering sector contributed 15 per cent, or S$7.3 billion, to Singapore's manufacturing value-add, and employed 94,000 people, of whom two-thirds are locals.

Mr Iswaran said: "The government wants to help more precision engineering companies in Singapore ascend the value chain and, in this regard, there is scope for us to build on our partnerships with the technology leaders in our midst.

"We are therefore keen to support more public-private partnerships in this area -- to establish Singapore as the advanced manufacturing hub in Asia."

Mr Iswaran added that despite recent signs of some slowdown in certain parts of Asia, manufacturing in Asia will likely continue to experience healthy growth, with industrial production expected to rise at rates of 4.4 to 9 per cent this year.

Kulicke & Soffa currently draws more than 80 per cent of its customer base from Asia.

Its new Singapore corporate headquarters has an area of nearly 200,000 square feet. The new facility also includes research & development, marketing, sales & services, and a customer training centre.

The company said the new facility is a scalable platform that will help it to further optimise its manufacturing processes and allow for future expansion. 

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