SINGAPORE: With economies around the world slowing down due to the ongoing trade spat between the United States and China, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore and the region would be affected.
"Last year was good growth, year before was also good growth. This year will continue to grow; it may be not quite as vibrant as before, but we work hard, and even if this year is slower, the year after we can make it better," said PM Lee on Tuesday (Feb 5), speaking on the sidelines of an appreciation visit to SATS workers on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
While last year's growth was more than 3 per cent, he said the economy was unlikely to be as strong this year.
"We have to keep on, in this environment, to keep on upgrading ourselves and improving lives for our workers. We will have challenges ahead," said Mr Lee.
He thanked SATS workers for keeping the air hub going during the busy festive season, and noted that it is an important part of Singapore's economy.
Against the backdrop of the general economy, he likened the challenges that Singapore will face with those of the aviation industry, saying competition will come not just domestically, but also from abroad and especially the region.
However, he said that in the long term the industry will keep growing as people will keep travelling and business in the long-term will pick up. "If we make sure we are competitive, they will fly through Singapore," said Mr Lee.
Last year, a record 65.6 million passengers travelled through Changi Airport.
When asked how the ongoing aviation and maritime tensions with Malaysia will affect the air industry, he said: "Our issues with Malaysia, we will discuss with them.
"We will work very hard to make sure we enable Changi to continue to be able to operate smoothly, and the Malaysians also, to have their airports operating smoothly, and traffic can flow throughout the region."
Mr Lee was accompanied by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, NTUC President Mary Liew, as well as union leaders and Members of Parliament during the visit.
Earlier in the day, Mr Ng and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin also visited 1,000 taxi drivers at the various Changi Airport terminals in a similar show of appreciation.