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Singapore's business hub goal needs global talent: Chan

Singapore will remain open to top international talent even as the country accelerates its economic transformation efforts and invests in and enhances connectivity to the city-state.


SINGAPORE will remain open to top international talent even as the country accelerates its economic transformation efforts and invests in and enhances connectivity to the city-state.

This is key as Singapore aspires to be the key nerve centre for businesses for trade, global supply and value chains, professional services, data, finance, technology, and talent said Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday evening.

Mr Chan noted that there has been "much scrutiny" on the issue of international talent and noted that some companies are anxious.

"This scrutiny is not unique to Singapore. Every country facing economic slowdown and recession will have elements questioning the balance between locals and foreigners in the job market," he said, during his keynote address at the Standard Chartered Asean Series: Singapore webinar titled "Singapore - the global hub and gateway to Asean".

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"Let me be clear. We want the world's best and brightest to be with Team Singapore - to augment our skills and capabilities, competing on our side rather than against us, and ultimately, to benefit Singaporeans, not to substitute or hurt them."

This means Singapore will continue to bring in international talent in a calibrated manner even as foreign worker policies shift increasingly toward quality rather than quantity.

"This is not a signal of us turning away from top international talent. But we are serious about discriminatory hiring practices, and we will work with our companies to ensure that they adopt the best practices," he said.

"We will also like to encourage all our companies to have a diverse workforce, and not overly rely on any particular source of labour from any particular foreign country. This is just part of good business continuity practices and it will also help us in our social integration."

Building on connectivity in both the physical and non-physical domains is also key to ensuring Singapore's viability as a hub, he said.

In addition to Changi T5, Tuas Mega Port and regional developments like Sungei Kadut Eco-District and Greater Southern Waterfront - which will continue with some adjustments to the timeline - this also means building deeper links with the world for markets, supplies, technology and talent, to enable businesses to access regional and global opportunities.

"We will do this by forging stronger partnerships and connections to major innovation nodes and key demand markets," he said.

These include trade facilitation and multilateral frameworks; platforms like the Global Innovation Alliance and the Networked Trade Platform, and further economic integration with Asean.

Singapore will also accelerate economic transformation efforts, focusing on productivity, innovation and upskilling, he said.

Mr Chan also noted that Singapore remains open for business and that much has been done on the travel front to enable more business and leisure travel.

"As we set up more 'travel bubbles', we will improve our processes, build confidence, and set the benchmark for a regional 'travel bubble', he said.

Ultimately, it is about positioning the country as more than just a gateway to the region, but as a hub.

"We prefer not to see ourselves as just a gateway to the region ," he said.

"We aspire to be the critical node in business's global value chains, production chains, and supply chains, where we add value, serving not just as a location to trade through; where we are the leverage point - rather than the pass-through point - that enables regional and global business to grow exponentially and succeed."

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