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Singapore exceeds forecast with S$15.2b in fixed asset investments in 2019

SINGAPORE attracted S$15.2 billion in fixed asset investments (FAI) in 2019, far exceeding the forecast of S$8 billion to S$10 billion for the year, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said at its year-in-review briefing on Thursday.

This was up from the S$10.9 billion attracted in 2018, and marked the highest figure since 2012.

EDB chairman Beh Swan Gin said the strong showing despite global uncertainty reflects Singapore's strong fundamentals.

He noted that large investments came from chemical and semiconductor firms that are "preparing themselves for the eventual upturn".

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Chemicals and electronics were the top two sources of investment commitments in 2019, each accounting for more than 30 per cent of total FAI, with S$4.9 billion and S$4.6 billion secured respectively.

Also contributing to 2019's good showing were the continued establishment of regional headquarters, and the building up of digital capabilities by both digital firms and those in traditional industries.

Total business expenditure per annum from the projects secured in 2019 is S$9 billion. When fully implemented, the projects will create 32,814 new jobs over the coming years, and are expected to contribute S$29.4 billion in value-added per year.

Unlike previous years, the EDB gave no specific forecast for 2020 investment commitments. "We are trying to shift away from a year-to-year forecast," said EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong, adding that such an approach was less meaningful in relation to how firms make investment decisions.

Instead, for the medium to long term, the aim is to sustain annual investment commitments of S$8 billion to S$10 billion, with total business expenditure per annum of S$5 billion to S$7 billion, and the expected creation of 16,000 to 18,000 jobs.

Nonetheless, Mr Chng said that EDB has "some foresight of the pipeline" for 2020 and expects to come in above these medium to long-term targets this year, particularly for FAI.

Mr Chng said EDB will continue to focus on three areas. One is strengthening Singapore as a platform for companies to tap opportunities in South-east Asia. Another is improving Singapore's role as a hub for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing firms to develop digital products and solutions for their own operations as well as for customers. The third is partnering companies in their innovation journey.

Of the jobs created by the 2019 investment commitments, almost half are expected to be digital roles such as data engineers, software engineers and digital product managers.

By sector, the top sources of jobs are the infocommunications and media sector, with 8,527 jobs expected to be created, and engineering and environmental services, with an expected 6,263 jobs.