Thursday, November 24, 2011


Arrived in Singapore yesterday afternoon for a four day jetlagged visit.

Given the fact that the island economy is still seen as one of the growth regions of the World, it is always revealing to examine what has been going on in recent months.

Certainly, growth has been outstripping that of the UK, with the Straits Times reporting that Singapore's economy is expected to grow by around 5 per cent in 2011.

Despite this good news, the expansion of the economy is not expected to last and is expected to slow down next year - growth is estimated at  anywhere between 1 and 3 per cent. The last time Singapore experienced such weak growth was in 2008 when the economy expanded by just 1.5 per cent (although it contracted by 0.8 per cent in 2009).

However, in calculating the state of the economy in 2012, the Ministry for Trade and Industry has not factored in downside risks to growth, such as that of a worsening debt situation leading to a full-blown financial crisis in the advanced economies. In fact, the outlook for Singapore's export-dependent economy seems volatile, with some economists even warning of a contraction if global demand continues to falter, especially following a 16 per cent drop in non-oil exports in October, double what the market had expected.

With non-oil domestic exports to the US falling by 51 percent and to the European Union by 31 percent, it demonstrates that the Asian economy is still affected by what goes on in the old economies of the World.

However, Singapore remains a growth centre with which other nations are keen to do business, which is not surprising given that it was ranked first in the World for employment in knowledge-intensive industries, innovation linkages and export performance by the Global Innovation Index (and third overall in the World).

Take, for example, the France-Singapore Innovation Days programme, put together to facilitate greater linkages between the two nations, which included showcasing five French companies and four Singaporean companies at different stages of development. Certainly, I would like to see the Welsh Government trying to do more to support linkages, especially in linking up our university sector with both higher education and industry in Singapore.