After celebrating 50 years of independence in 2015, Singapore enters a new phase in its history. With this recalibration, the world is keen to know what's next for the small island-nation, widely emulated as a model of cultural diversity and economic success.
An established hub for trade, finance, and logistics, Singapore can show the world what else it can achieve as it transitions into a smart nation, driven by a new generation of businesses and industries that capitalizes on technological expertise.
The Special Business Report on Singapore, tentatively scheduled for publication in the November/December 2017 issue of Foreign Affairs, will highlight the country’s leading sectors, enterprises, projects and brands, while identifying opportunities for investment available to foreign companies.
Having built one of the world’s most advanced and stable economies in less than 50 years, Singapore now faces the challenge of sustaining its development despite its small size and limited natural resources. Given those daunting geographical challenges and the greater competition from its neighbors, the city-state now faces the question: Where next?
Chan Chun Sing, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who also serves as Deputy Chairman on the Committee on the Future Economy, has shared the country’s multi-pronged approach to build further on its success.
With its finite resources, Singapore’s strength has always been human capital. So, the government continues to invest heavily in developing local talent and attracting the best foreign workers. It is also ensuring that the country remains tightly connected to the rest of the world and provides a predictable and stable place to do business.
“We always remain open to talent from all over the world and for them to come over and reinforce the strength of Team Singapore. We see the world as our hinterland, a hinterland for talents,” Chan said.
With its advanced level of development and the rapid changes in technology, the government has identified new opportunities that will move the economy forward for the coming decades. As the digital revolution progresses unfettered, big data is the new frontier for the land-scarce country. But this also requires uninterrupted connectivity.
“Many city states always depended on a larger hinterland for resources, talent and markets. Very few can survive on their own partly because they don’t have either the resources or connectivity to the rest of the world,” the minister explained.
This global trend has emerged also in fast developing markets with several urbanized centers, like China and India. But for growth to gain significant momentum, these places must provide excellent urban solutions and facilities in health, transportation, energy and water, areas wherein Singapore beats its regional competitors.
Known around the world for its top caliber schools, Singapore is adapting to the new landscape and is transforming ways for people to learn. Chan stressed the issue now is: “What is your speed to market in terms of training?’ This is very important. If we want to have a vibrant continuing education and training community where our people are constantly equipping themselves with new and relevant skill sets to thrive in the future economy, we need to hasten the speed to market.”
For more than 50 years, Singapore has built a brand of trust and stability as shown by its stable economic and business environment, and the unassailable reputation of its goods and services. The country had created an ecosystem wherein its citizens and partners can benefit from every part of its so-called value.
“We are very optimistic about our future. If we could do it in 1965, then there’s absolutely no reason we can’t take the country forward for the next 50 or 100 years,” Chan said.