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2016 GDP growth to be "one-plus per cent": PM Lee in New Year Message

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Singapore's economy is expected to grow by "one-plus per cent" for 2016, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual New Year Message on Saturday evening.

Singapore's economy is expected to grow by "one-plus per cent" for 2016, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual New Year Message on Saturday evening.

"(It is) still positive, though less than we hoped for," he added, noting that Singapore is "not doing badly" considering the global economic uncertainties.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will release its advance estimates for Singapore's gross domestic product for the fourth quarter and the full year 2016 on Jan 3 at 8am.

"While the labour market has eased, unemployment remains low and we are still creating new jobs. I know many employers and workers are concerned, but rest assured the government is watching this closely," said Mr Lee.

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He recapped some of the country's achievements of the past year, with various schemes launched to help workers adapt to a changing environment and support professionals going through mid-career job changes. The SkillsFuture national movement is ramping up its Earn and Learn programmes, study awards and fellowships for different sectors.

The high-level Committee on the Future Economy is working on longer-term strategies for growth, and Mr Lee said that the group will publish its recommendations in a few weeks' time.

Another major focus for Singapore has been to strengthen its ties with major partners to create opportunities for Singapore companies and Singaporeans, said the prime minister.

Even as hopes for the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact have dimmed, Mr Lee said that Singapore continues to pursue other avenues of economic cooperation, including the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal.

On the whole, Singapore is making "good progress" even as the world is in flux. Mr Lee pointed out that there is growing "nativist nationalism" in developed countries, with much angst and discontent with the impact of technology and globalisation.

"People want to shut themselves off, to insulate themselves from foreign competition," he said, emphasising that this would most likely end up hurting themselves and fail to improve lives.

"In any case, small countries like Singapore cannot close ourselves up. Our best choice is to stay open, to continually re-invent ourselves, and to stand out among the countries of the world," he added.

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