International Business & Economy EDB's new focus on region is behind the curve

EDB's new focus on region is behind the curve




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By: Tan Jee Say
After more than 50 years, EDB is now switching its focus from attracting foreign MNCs in USA, Europe and Japan, to the “richer and maturing markets of South-east Asia”. (source:
Why has it taken our economic planners so long to come to this strategy? I had suggested this change of focus 5 years ago in my essay “Creating Jobs and Enterprise in a New Economy – Ideas for Change” (here’s the link:
During the 2011 General Election, my ideas were severely criticised as wrong or out of date by no less than the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and several PAP ministers, but now it is official Government policy. If the Government had accepted my suggestions in 2011, Singapore would not have lost 5 precious years and suffered low growth during this period.
Let me repeat what I wrote 5 years ago:
“We should focus on the region for three reasons; firstly, unlike manufactured goods which are commoditized products targeted at developed markets in the US, Europe and Japan, most services are ‘consumed’ locally; secondly, the market in the region is huge with a population of more than half a billion in Southeast Asia alone that will provide insatiable demand for a long time to come, and thirdly, the quality and level of sophistication of services in some sectors such as finance, education and healthcare, have not yet reached the standards of First World global hubs in Europe and the USA. With our high level of education and international exposure, Singapore can build upon its basic strengths and experiences to become a vibrant and sustainable regional services hub that is knowledge-based and capable of offering creative and imaginative solutions.”
Who has been wrong and out of date all these years?

Edited and republished from Tan Jee Say’s Facebook.

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