SINGAPORE: More help, such as the development of multi-year roadmaps, will be available for local trade associations and chambers (TACs), as part of the Government’s focus to forge “deeper partnerships” within Singapore and across the world.
This emphasis on domestic collaboration, alongside maintaining global linkages, will form one of the key thrusts of Singapore’s ongoing economic transformation, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget statement delivered on Monday (Feb 18).
TACs, such as the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), can play important roles in developing industry-wide capabilities. They have also done well in helping firms build overseas partnerships, noted Mr Heng.
Moving forward, Enterprise Singapore will develop five-year roadmaps with TACs that have “demonstrated strong leadership and shown ambition to do more for the business community”.
This, according to the minister, can help TACs take on a “more strategic and longer-term approach” in driving industry transformation, as well as access funding and potentially take in public sector secondees through the Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme.
There will also be efforts to streamline and digitise trade processes further so as to help local firms, among others, make better use of free trade agreements (FTAs) like the recently-concluded European Union-Singapore trade deal.
Following the launch of the Networked Trade Platform last year, which was aimed at streamlining trade processes and providing a one-stop information management system for traders, Mr Heng announced that work is underway to “facilitate the secure exchange of electronic trade documents”.
BUILD SINGAPORE AS GLOBAL-ASIA NODE
Global partnerships also play an important role in positioning Singapore as a “Global-Asia node” of technology, innovation and enterprise – a key strategy for the country’s next phase of growth, stressed Mr Heng.
The Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) has been set up in nine global start-up hotspots, such as Bangkok and Beijing, since it was launched two Budgets ago.
“These GIA nodes give our entrepreneurs and students opportunities to learn and build networks globally.”
There have also been efforts to bring the global innovation community to Singapore, and foster opportunities to explore and collaborate.
To maximise that, two headline events – the Singapore FinTech Festival and the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology – will be held in the same week in mid-November.
Mr Heng also announced the set-up of two new Centres of Innovation focusing on aquaculture and energy, as part of the Government’s push to help SMEs with technology innovation.
The centre focusing on aquaculture will support the growth and internationalisation of local enterprises, while improving Singapore’s food resilience. It will be located at Temasek Polytechnic.
The other, to be housed at the Nanyang Technological University, aims to drive industry-led innovation in energy efficiency, renewable energy and electric mobility.
“Over the years, we have forged deep partnerships with the G3 economies of US, Europe and Japan, as well as China, India and ASEAN,” said Mr Heng.
“With the centre of economic gravity shifting to Asia, and with the technological depth of our partnerships with G3 economies, we should position Singapore as ‘Asia 101’ for global multinationals looking to expand into Asia’s growing markets, and as ‘Global 101’ for Asian companies ready to go global.”
Singapore’s position as a “Global-Asia node” will open up new opportunities for firms and people to ride on the wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution brought about by rapid advancements and convergence of new technologies, he added.
To prepare Singaporeans for these opportunities, there will be a new Global Ready Talent Programme for students currently enrolled in the institutes of higher learning.
This new programme combines the local and overseas internship programmes, and will have more funding support for students interning overseas with Singapore firms.
It will also support high-growth local firms to send Singaporeans with up to three years of working experience for postings in key markets, such as Southeast Asia, China and India.
“By giving young Singaporeans overseas exposure, they can develop new skills to better support our firms’ overseas expansion,” said Mr Heng.