Singapore—Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran noted in a recent interview that the country has made “considerable progress” in fighting the virus, and is now looking for ways to further open the economy.
This still must be done in a “calibrated manner,” the Minister cautioned, as “we don’t want to squander these gains that have been secured through significant effort.”
“Tremendous sacrifice and hard work” on the part of the people, he told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin on Thursday (Oct 22), have been key to ensuring Singapore’s gains in the fight against Covid-19.
On Tuesday (Oct 20), Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who chairs the multi-ministry task force assigned to tackle issues stemming from the pandemic, announced that Singapore could enter Phase 3 of easing restrictions imposed due to the pandemic by the end of the year. The number of new Covid-19 cases has decreased so much that based on the latest figures from the Ministry of Health, there was only one locally transmitted Covid-19 infection and seven imported cases.
The Minister for Communications and Information also told Bloomberg that Singapore is presently concentrating on expanding its capacity for rapid testing and tracing, as this would further move forward the opening of the economy.
Safeguarding the country’s gains against Covid-19 so far would need an “investment and ramping-up of our capabilities in testing and also in tracing,” he added, complemented by Singapore’s treatment capabilities, which the country has been ramping up over the last half-year.
And when viable vaccines are produced and distributed, these become “a part of the overall solution,” he said.
Mr Iswaran, who is also the minister-in-charge of trade relations, also talked about developing further trade deals after inking a pact with the European Union last year. “We’ve seen many partners want to do business with Singapore, and maybe even locate some of their regional headquarters here because of that network effect of our free-trade agreements.”
He underlined two things that are crucial in ensuring economic success in the post-Covid world, “Staying open and being connected.”
At a free-trade conference hosted by the Singapore Business Federation held earlier on Thursday he said, “We are ardent proponents of a rules-based multilateral system. We know that there’s this instinct to turn inward, but we must stay open,” emphasizing that foreign talent can complement the local workforce in Singapore.
Mr Iswaran also posted about Free Trade Agreements on his Facebook page on Thursday, writing that he had virtually met “600 businesses at Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Day today” in an initiative organised by the Singapore Business Federation.
“The keen interest by our businesses in FTAs and digital economy agreements (DEAs) affirms Singapore’s commitment to stay open and connected to the world,” he added.
According to Mr Iswaran, Singapore’s FTAs have enabled it “to remain plugged into the global economy” as well as have made the country more attractive to international companies, which helps create job openings.
“We have made progress in helping our businesses better utilise Singapore’s extensive FTA network through training courses and by integrating the Tariff Finder tool with the Networked Trade Platform, to provide greater convenience for businesses via a single touchpoint,” he added.
Virtually met about 600 businesses at Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Day today, organised by the Singapore Business…