Despite significant uncertainties in the year ahead, investment commitments in Singapore are expected to be "sustained at 2018 levels", the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said on Thursday (Feb 14).
At its annual year-in-review briefing, the agency also outlined five priority areas for 2019, which include tapping opportunities in ASEAN, the digital economy and new industry clusters such as mobility.
About S$8 billion to S$10 billion in fixed asset investments is expected to flow in this year, according to EDB.
Total business expenditure (TBE) per annum, which refers to companies’ incremental operating expenditure including wages and rental, is forecast to be between S$5 billion and S$7 billion.
These are estimated to create 16,000 to 18,000 new jobs.
Last year, Singapore attracted S$10.9 billion in fixed asset investments, exceeding EDB's forecast of S$8 billion to S$10 billion.
The electronics sector (28.4 per cent) pulled in the most investments, followed by info-communications and media (18.4 per cent) and research and development (14.5 per cent).
TBE per annum was S$6.2 billion, within EDB's forecast of S$5 billion to S$7 billion.
When fully implemented, these projects will create 17,400 new jobs, also in line with expectations for 16,000 to 18,000 new jobs.
These are a “good mix” of roles across manufacturing, research and development, as well as the services industries, said EDB’s managing director Chng Kai Fong.
Slightly more than one-fifth of the expected jobs will be in research and development, while the engineering and environmental services will account for another 22 per cent of new positions.
The projects are also expected to contribute S$13.6 billion in value-added per annum.
2018‘s figures reflect Singapore’s continued strength as a global business city and a manufacturing hub, said EDB’s chairman Beh Swan Gin.
He noted that for the year ahead, there are significant uncertainties in the global operating environment and signs of softening in many economies around the world.
Singapore’s economy is also likely to soften, but the country's investment pipeline is set to “remain resilient” barring a recession or a breakdown in US-China trade talks, said Dr Beh.
When asked how the brewing trade tensions may have affected investment sentiments last year, Dr Beh said “high” levels of uncertainties have prompted some companies to temporarily shelve large capital spending decisions.
However, there has also been a reshuffling of supply chains by companies looking to mitigate risks, and Southeast Asia “has clearly benefited” from that.
The EDB said it will have five key priorities this year; one of which is to position Singapore as a platform for global and regional companies to do business within ASEAN.
With digitalisation unlocking new sources of growth and innovation, EDB will also focus on strengthening the country’s edge in advanced manufacturing and becoming the digital hub for non-manufacturing companies.
The government agency said it will also continue to connect companies with institutes of higher learning here to establish corporate labs, while taking a more active role in helping companies with experimentation, commercialisation and venturing beyond Singapore.
Lastly, Singapore can play a leading role in the area of autonomous vehicles and smart mobility – a new growth area thanks to technological disruption – given its advanced manufacturing capabilities and highly skilled workforce.
This comes on the back of British technology firm Dyson announcing the set-up of its automotive manufacturing facility in Singapore.
"EDB will continue to strengthen Singapore’s positioning as a key node in ASEAN, help companies to adopt and innovate with digital technologies, and leverage our capabilities to venture into new growth areas that will create good jobs for Singaporeans," said Dr Beh.