Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on countries to embrace technological change instead of yielding to their anxieties by obstructing it. During a brief speech about the future of work at the Group of 20 summit, he urged governments to help workers displaced by new technology take on new jobs. Companies and industries must adapt to new technologies and market conditions, while workers have to adopt the mindset of lifelong learning. Singapore is attending the G-20 summit as a representative of Asean - which it chairs this year - at the invitation of this year's G-20 president, Argentina. Singapore is also speaking on behalf of an informal coalition of small and medium-sized states known as the Global Governance Group.
Singapore extends port limits off Tuas, says will guard sovereignty
Singapore has extended its port limits off Tuas in response to Malaysia's latest intrusion in its waters, warning it would not hesitate to take firm action to protect its territory and sovereignty if necessary. "This extension is well within Singapore Territorial Waters and tracks the eastern boundary of the 1999 Johor Bahru Port Limits," Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a prepared statement at a press conference. He explained that Malaysia had unilaterally drawn and published the territorial water it claims in 1979. This included its claim on Pedra Branca as well as areas at the eastern and western approaches to Singapore. Mr Khaw said the boundary lines Malaysia claimed at the western approach to Singapore have intruded into the Republic's port limits. Singapore has protested to Malaysia to reject its claim on Pedra Branca and stated categorically that these new boundary lines violated Singapore's sovereignty and were unacceptable.
MAS unveils S$30m grant to bolster cybersecurity
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) launched a S$30 million Cybersecurity Capabilities Grant to raise the cybersecurity capabilities of the financial sector and help financial institutions develop local talent in cybersecurity. Funded under the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme (FSTI), the grant will support the development of advanced cybersecurity functions within financial institutions. MAS will co-fund up to 50 per cent of qualifying expenses, capped at S$3 million, for financial institutions to establish their global or regional cybersecurity centres of excellence in Singapore, and financial institutions with key global or regional cybersecurity functions and operations in the Republic to expand and deepen their cybersecurity capabilities locally. It will also encourage Singapore-based financial institutions to upskill their local workforce through cybersecurity-related training programmes. This will help attract more cybersecurity professionals and expand the local talent pool in the financial sector.
Singapore is Asia's second most costly city for rich Asians:
Julius Baer report Boosted by a stronger Singapore dollar and costlier luxury goods and services overall, the Republic is now Asia's second most expensive city for luxury living, up from third place last year. This finding came from private bank Julius Baer's latest wealth report, which tracks luxury spending by Asia's high-net-worth individuals, defined as those with net investable wealth of US$1 million or more, excluding the property that is their main residence. Singapore is also Asia's third most expensive city to secure a luxury property. Julius Baer said that the demand for luxury homes in Singapore is being driven by foreigners, especially those from China, Malaysia and Indonesia, as is the case in Hong Kong and Shanghai. But for the global elite, luxury homes in Singapore still remain "relatively more affordable than in cities like Hong Kong or New York for a similar, if not higher, standard of living". In contrast, Kuala Lumpur remains Asia's cheapest city for luxury goods and services, particularly residential property, hotel accommodation, wine, jewellery, pianos and cars, compared to other Asian cities.
Changes to the Cabinet to put younger ministers in key posts will be announced sometime after the Budget debate next year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated this timeframe for a reshuffle in an interview with Singapore media in Argentina, where he was attending the Group of 20 leaders' summit. The Budget debate ends in March, and Mr Lee hinted that the changes could be made in April or May. But for the leadership transition to the fourth generation (4G) team to go according to plan, the People's Action Party (PAP) must first win the next general election, Mr Lee added. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is expected to be deputy prime minister, the post which the second and third PMs - Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee - held while they were earmarked for the top post.
Plan unveiled to help the media industry become digital-ready
Small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as professionals in the media industry can now access a step-by-step guide to see how they can develop their digital capabilities and get advice on how to thrive in the digital economy. The Media Industry Digital Plan (IDP) was announced by Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, at the opening ceremony of the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. She said that the plan was created as the media environment continues to "evolve at a fast pace". She said: "We recognise the need for stronger, more agile companies and more higher skilled professionals to seize opportunities in Asia and beyond. Not only must we build creative skills, which remain important in the media sector, but also digital skills, so our media SMEs and professionals can thrive in an increasingly digital environment." At the core of this plan is something known as the digital roadmap, which includes a list of solutions to guide media industry SMEs and professionals in their adoption of technology at each stage of their growth. This can start at the basic level of an SME wanting to streamline operations for freelancer contracts and billing management, for example, or moving on to more advanced levels of creating artificial intelligence-enabled content.
Finance ministers focused on preparing for a downturn: Heng
Finance ministers from the world's 20 largest economies were concerned about the state of financial markets this year, and some of their work at the Group of 20 summit at the weekend focused on preparing for the eventuality of a downturn, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. "We have had a prolonged period of economic upturn. The question is, when is the downturn coming? And how do we prepare for that?" Mr Heng said in an interview with Singapore media after the summit in Argentina, which he attended. Singapore was invited as chairman of Asean this year. Mr Heng said that the finance ministers focused on three major areas, the first of which was short-term risk in the global financial system. The second area of focus was on building a more resilient financial system with "safety nets" on a national, regional and global scale. The third area listed by Mr Heng was developing the financial system to support structural changes in various economies.
SMEs expect lower turnover in 2018; sentiment weighed down by trade war: survey
More small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore are expecting a decline in turnover this year, citing the challenging business environment as the main culprit for the dampened outlook, weighed down at least partially by the US-China trade war. The 2018 SME Development Survey by DP Info found that 15 per cent of SMEs project revenues to fall this year, up from 11 per cent in 2017, and 12 per cent in 2016. Only two in five SMEs expect turnover growth in 2018. The survey conducted between June and August this year, which was also when the US-China trade spat began in earnest. According to the study, one in five SMEs said that they were affected by the ongoing trade conflict between the US and China. Among those impacted, 54 per cent said that it would affect the competitiveness of exports, while 40 per cent said that it reduces overseas sales. Some 28 per cent of SMEs said that it would affect or delay their internationalisation plans.
Trade war drives companies to review business plans
In the face of trade tensions between the United States and China, members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore) are delaying or cancelling investment plans, looking to other markets, and tweaking supply chains. Helping members cope is the chamber's top priority for 2019, said AmCham Singapore chairman Dwight Hutchins of a survey on the impact of the trade war. Of 179 member firms who responded to the November survey, 68 per cent said they were reviewing their business strategies in response to the trade war. The most common move, taken by half of these firms, was delaying or cancelling investment decisions. Firms are also looking for alternatives, whether by increasing their presence in other markets (40 per cent) or adjusting supply chains by sourcing components or assembly outside China (38 per cent) or outside the US (30 per cent). Some firms are mulling more dramatic moves, with 15 per cent considering relocating some or all of their manufacturing operations out of China, 10 per cent considering a similar move out of the US, and 5 per cent considering exiting China altogether.
Economic growth across the South-east Asia region is expected to slow in 2019 to 5 per cent, after an estimated 5.3 per cent in 2018, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales' (ICAEW) latest Economic Insight report on the region. Singapore specifically is expected to experience the sharpest downturn, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth set to moderate from an expected 3.3 per cent in 2018 to 2.5 per cent next year, as US-China tensions and the resulting slowdown in Chinese demand continue to weigh on growth. Many of the region's economies are small open economies heavily dependent on exports, with a high level of exports to China, noted ICAEW. In particular, Malaysia and Vietnam are both highly exposed to China with total exports to China in value-added terms accounting for 10.7 per cent and 10.3 per cent of GDP respectively in 2017. Of this, more than half were to meet Chinese domestic demand. On the other end of the spectrum, Indonesia and the Philippines will be the least affected by the trade tensions. And, while growth is set to ease in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines in 2019, they will still be among the top 10 fastest growing economies globally.
StanChart to cut Dubai, Singapore jobs
Standard Chartered Plc is cutting jobs in Dubai and key markets including Singapore as it looks to curb expenses, people familiar with the matter said. Some senior roles are included in the cuts, the people said, asking not to be identified because the emerging-markets lender's strategy isn't yet public. As many as 100 positions may be impacted in Dubai although the number hasn't been finalised, two of the people said. The eliminations also include leadership at the firm's priority banking operations, which offer personalised wealth-management services, one of the people said. The staff reduction is coming as Standard Chartered chief executive officer Bill Winters is looking for ways to reignite growth. The bank is weighing a plan to simplify its structure, reduce funding expenses and free up liquidity, people familiar with the matter said earlier last week.
S'pore factory growth slows for third month
Manufacturing growth slowed for a third consecutive month in November to record its lowest reading since July last year. The key electronics sector marked its first contraction as well after 27 consecutive months of growth, said the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). The overall Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dipped 0.4 point from October to 51.5. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
This was in line with economist expectations, according to an earlier Bloomberg consensus forecast. The lower PMI reading last month was due to slower growth in new orders, new exports, factory output, inventory and employment levels, said SIPMM, which publishes the index based on a survey of over 150 industrial companies. Despite slower growth, the employment index recorded its 15th month of consecutive expansion.
Global economic recovery will be hit if trade row escalates:
WTO All countries will lose in a global trade war, the head of the world's trade referee warned in a speech. The outcome in all simulations is that trade and economic growth will slow down and that all countries, without exceptions, will lose out in a global trade war, Mr Roberto Azevedo, directorgeneral of the World Trade Organisation said. That is a warning the International Monetary Fund has also issued. Mr Azevedo stressed that most of the job losses are due to technological change, rather than trade. Trade is "an engine of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation", he said.