SINGAPORE: Foreign labour complements Singaporean workers and brings along relevant skills to create new industries and job opportunities, Singapore's newly-appointed Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has said.
In his first public address since assuming the post on May 1, Chan noted that the global economic centre of gravity is "shifting eastwards" and said the Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) region alone is projected to have a USD 3 trillion economy by 2020 and is expected to become the fourth-largest economy by 2030.
"Foreign labour complements Singaporean workers and brings along relevant skills to create new industries and job opportunities," he said.
"This is crucial to our longer term competitiveness, and ensures that we stay relevant to a dynamic region that is fast evolving," he added.
Singapore is the ASEAN chairman this year.
"In ASEAN, we have a large market of over 600 million people, a young and dynamic population, rising middle class and rapid urbanisation.
"These conditions make the ASEAN region an increasingly important market in the global economy.
And with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), ASEAN has been transformed into a competitive single market and production base.
This would facilitate trade and investment across the region," he said.
Chan also stressed that talent will play an increasingly important part in directing Singapore's next phase of growth to become an innovation-driven economy.
Speaking at an event organised by the European Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (EuroCham) yesterday, Chan highlighted the importance of improving the quality of the workforce, as trade associations, companies and the government implement the 23 Industry Transformation Maps -- strategic plans for industries to address specific issues.
"Beyond connectivity and a pro-business environment, another key criterion for our continued success is being open to talent," the Straits Times today quoted Chan as telling 150 government officials and business leaders at EuroCham lunch.
"This is our reality as a small country with no natural resources and a maturing workforce.
"We have always invested significantly in our people to ensure that our workforce is competitive and right-skilled," he said.
Chan said, "We must also put in place plans, systems and mechanisms to help Singaporeans go overseas and explore opportunities, network with the region and build up cross-cultural, international competencies.
"It is about growing the local talent pool and networking them with the external talent pool for us to have what we call a Singapore global talent network," said Chan.