Singapore is doing its best to remain objective between the United States and China amidst the rising tension between these two global economies.
Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s trade and industry minister, noted the country is adopting a ‘stay neutral’ approach and is focused on finding ways on how the city-state can add value to both China and the US as partners.
Mr Chan cited Singapore wants to remain neutral and open so there is a common ground to work with the US, China and Europe and to engage with them, and carry out productive economic activities.
He added this is how the country positions itself in today’s unstable business climate.
The trade minister said there are challenges that Singapore has to overcome beyond the increasing trade conflict.
He noted that trade frictions are simply superficial. The more serious issues lie with the technology and geo-strategic tension between the US and China.
He added the outcome of the talks will be very much dependent on the local politics of both superpowers.
No plans to take sides
The Singaporean minister said the city-state does not want to deal with any one of the two countries alone.
He noted Singapore is very welcoming to any global companies, one such company is Dyson, which recently showed interest to shift its headquarters to the Lion City from the UK.
Mr Chan stressed that foreign companies planning to relocate to Singapore can benefit from the country’s long-term business and political certainty, superior connectivity, and intellectual property laws that are globally competitive.
When asked about his comments on the recent Budget plan, he reiterated that the strict regulations on overseas workers was a ‘surgical’ approach designed for particular sectors to redesign the labour force.
Mr Chan explained the goal is to ensure that the city-state’s dependency on overseas workers will be on a sustainable level.
He said the country is not bound to employ unlimited foreign workers in Singapore. What it needs are skilled overseas employees.
The total count for foreign workers in the service industries such as food and retail will be reduced from 2020 to help increase productivity and promote labour growth.
Mr Chan noted Singapore would still be on the lookout for talents who specialise in artificial intelligence and financial technology.
He cited the government will lead firms on how to be ‘manpower-lean’ with the reassurance of reaping benefits in the long term.
He stressed the country’s foreign workers’ policy does not rely on a feast-and-famine strategy, adding the government wants the city-state’s firms to plan with a long term vision.
He noted several forms of assistance are in place for small businesses so they can easily adjust to the new policies set in the Budget plan.