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Focus on business links in S-E Asia, says prof

University of Michigan don Linda Lim says although globalisation is slowing down, South-east Asia is on the rise.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore's economic destiny lies in South-east Asia but Singaporeans are not sufficiently equipped for this future, a visiting international business expert said yesterday.

University of Michigan professor Linda Lim said Singapore will become less relevant as a bridge connecting China to South-east Asia.

Speaking at a public lecture organised by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Prof Lim said: "China doesn't need us, they like to do things themselves. And it's not clear we possess anything that can help them. We do not have enough knowledge of our neighbours."

Instead, Singapore should find out what middle-class consumers in neighbouring countries want, and deliver it to them, she said. About 100 people attended the talk.

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During the discussion after the talk, Prof Lim and several audience members spoke about how younger Singaporeans lack the cultural know-how and skills needed to do business in the region, and suggested ways to improve the situation.

Although globalisation is slowing down, South-east Asia is on the rise, said Prof Lim in her lecture titled "Back to the Future: Singapore, China and South-east Asia". While the developed world is experiencing slower gross domestic product (GDP) and productivity growth, GDP growth in South-east Asia will outpace all other world regions, except South Asia, she said.