SINGAPORE: Investment commitment levels in Singapore are expected to be similar to those seen in 2016 amid uncertainties in the global economic environment, the Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Thursday (Feb 2).
At its 2016 Year-in-Review press conference, EDB said it will seek to consolidate Singapore's position as a high value manufacturing base by capturing opportunities in advanced manufacturing. It will do this by anchoring lead adopters of advanced manufacturing in Singapore, while building up an ecosystem of suppliers and enablers to develop technologies and solutions, the agency added.
EDB will also work with other Government agencies, companies and institutes of higher learning to ensure a pipeline of talent entering the manufacturing workforce.
Technology also remains a key focus, with areas like cybersecurity, software development and data science highlighted by EDB's managing director, Yeoh Keat Chuan.
Looking ahead, EDB expects Fixed Asset Investments for the year to come in between S$8 billion and S$10 billion. Meanwhile, Total Business Expenditure Per Annum is forecast to be between S$5 billion and S$7 billion.
Total Business Expenditure Per Annum refers to commitments by firms setting up regional headquarters, research and development labs and other facilities in Singapore. In return for tax breaks, the firms must agree to spend a certain amount of money on salaries, rent and local procurement, among other things, each year. Fixed asset investment refers to a firm's additional investment in facilities, equipment and machinery.
Meanwhile, Expected Value-Added Per Annum - how much investments will add to the GDP when fully realised - is expected to come in between S$12 billion and S$14 billion, the same as last year's forecast.
Highlighting uncertainties stemming from events such as elections in Europe as well as proposed policies from US President Donald Trump that could shape the operating environment, EDB's chairman, Beh Swan Gin, said there was a need to be "watchful".
However, he said that the good news for Singapore was that its fundamentals remain strong.
"I think we have to approach 2017 with some caution, but we certainly do not have to be depressed about 2017."
Key targets were also met or exceeded last year, said Mr Yeoh. For instance, Fixed Asset Investments came in at S$9.4 billion, which was within the earlier forecast of S$8 billion to S$10 billion.
Additionally, the S$8.3 billion of Total Business Expenditure Per Annum exceeded expectations of S$5.5 billion to S$6.5 billion, partly due to large-scale shipyard projects committed.
When fully implemented, these projects are expected to create around 20,100 jobs, EDB said.
Mr Yeoh said that Singapore companies must also do their part to speed up their growth. "The technology such as automation, robotics, digitisation, additive manufacturing - they require certain willingness to try on new things. And I feel that for a number of maybe smaller companies the challenge is setting aside the resources to do so," he said.
For 2017, EDB is forecasting the creation of between 19,000 and 21,000 jobs over the next five years.