Singapore is one of the UK's key markets in
the Asia-Pacific. Its strategic location, first-class
infrastructure and use of the English language
and legal system have made it a popular location
in the region for British businesses.
One of the Asian "tigers",
with annual average growth in excess of 8%
for more than three decades, Singapore is
in the first division of wealthy nations by
almost every yardstick. It has been hit by
the current global economic slowdown, but
its economy remains fundamentally strong.
Latest figures are expecting GDP growth to
be 2.2% for 2002 and between 2% and 5% in
Singapore is one of the UK’s
largest export markets outside of Europe.
Our exports to Singapore amounted to over
£1.6 billion in 2001, more than to any
other country in the region. Over seven hundred
British companies are represented here and
more than 19,000 British nationals live here.
Our foreign direct investment in Singapore
amounted to nearly £6.3 billion in 2000.
Malay, Tamil, Mandarin Chinese
and English are the official languages. But
almost all Singaporeans speak English, which
is the main language of business and administration.
Buddhism, Taoism, Islam,
Christianity, Hinduism and Confucianism
Singapore Dollar (for the
current rate of exchange consult a bank or
visit Universal Currency Converter)
Singapore is a remarkable
model of economic development. From independence
in 1965, it has achieved almost uninterrupted
growth of at least 8% per annum for over three
decades. By the 1990s, Singapore had GDP per
capital levels similar to many OECD countries,
and it was acknowledged as one of Asia’s
and planning have been key to Singapore's
development. The government has targeted particular
industries for development (often over a long
time frame) by putting in place world-class
infrastructure and offering generous tax concessions.
It has also established Government Linked
Companies (GLCs) - like Keppel Corporation,
SembCorp Industries and Singapore Airlines
- with the intention that they become home-grown
champions in strategic areas of the economy.
Singapore's economy relies
on manufacturing, financial and business services,
and commerce. Within the manufacturing sector,
the dominant industry is electronics (electronics
accounts over 30% of manufacturing output,
and 60% of non-oil domestic exports), and
Singapore is a manufacturing base for several
of the world's leading electronics multinationals.
Singapore also serves as a hub for South East
Asia across an extensive range of financial
and business services. In 1997, the government
announced its intention to establish Singapore
as the pre-eminent financial hub for the wider
region and it has introduced significant measures
to liberalise financial services. Singapore's
historic role as an entrepot and trans-shipment
centre also continues to this day. Both its
port and airport are world class, regularly
winning industry awards and offering superior
connectivity for shipping and the airlines.
Until recently, Singapore
had experienced few periods of economic difficulty.
But it was hit hard in 2001 by a downturn
in its key global markets and a collapse in
demand for electronics goods. As a result,
Singapore experienced in 2001 its worst recession
since independence: GDP fell 2.4% after growing
almost 10% in 2000, and exports fell by almost
15%. Although its economy grew again by 2.2%
in 2002 (largely as a result of increased
exports from the biosciences sector), Singapore
was hit hard again earlier this year by SARS
(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The Singapore
government handled the outbreak better than
most, but the economic fallout was significant,
particularly in the retail, tourism and consumer-services
sectors (at its worst, visitor arrivals fell
by more than half, retail sales plummeted
by more than 80%, and many leading hotels
had occupancy rates of less than 20%).
economy remains fundamentally strong and there
are signs that its economy is recovering again,
albeit slowly. The Singapore government expects
that, barring any further adverse external
shocks, GDP will grow in 2003 by between 0%
and 1.0%. Nevertheless, Singapore does still
face a challenge in adapting its centralised
economic system. The government has recognised
that many of the established policies need
to be changed, and has embarked on a process
of creative destruction. This involves an
intensification of measures to liberalise
and deregulate the economy, and the active
promotion of entrepreneurship.
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