Singapore secured about S$13 billion in investment commitments in first 4 months of 2020 amid COVID-19 outbreak
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) has in the first four months of this year secured about S$13 billion in investment commitments for the “next few years”, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said. This means Singapore has exceeded the S$8 billion to S$10 billion which had been projected for the whole of 2020.
These investments, in sectors including electronics and infocomm, will generate “a few thousand jobs” for workers in Singapore in the coming years, Mr Chan told reporters during a media briefing on Saturday. Companies such as chipmaker Micron and life sciences firm Thermo Fisher Scientific are adding jobs, he said. Micron aims to add 1,500 jobs in Singapore over the next few years, while Thermo Fisher Scientific is increasing hiring due to a surge in demand for its COVID-19 test kits. “This reflects the sustained confidence of many major investors, major businesses in our economy,” he said, noting new investments into the economy are needed to create jobs. “So if you look at the overall portfolio, because we have diversified our economy, we have a range of new jobs and new opportunities from the new investments. And that should give us some cheer, although we shouldn’t be complacent,” he added.
While unemployment has crept up to slightly more than 3 per cent, this is still much better than what was feared, Mr Chan said, noting other countries had seen a “huge spike in unemployment in a very short time” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are unlikely to return to a pre-COVID world, because many things have changed. Global demand has changed, global supply chains have changed,” he said.
A post-COVID-19 world is also not yet on the horizon, noting that a vaccine or affordable rapid test kits are unlikely to be available in the near-term, he said. As such, people must “learn to live and make a living” amid the COVID-19 outbreak, he said. There will be job displacement from old industries into new ones, requiring a certain amount of retraining and upskilling for workers, he added. “We are quite clear that we will not be able to preserve every job in the whole economy,” the minister stated. “But we are determined to make sure that we can help every Singaporean and businesses transit to the new equilibrium, or the new normal as we call it.” The Government is taking a “multi-pronged strategy” to securing jobs and businesses, he said. This involves approaches such as helping companies hire ahead and working with trade associations and chambers to increase the number of apprenticeships in various sectors for both fresh graduates, as well as those going through mid-career transitions.