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SMEs must remain strong core for Singapore's next phase of economic development: minister

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by November 11, 2016 General

SINGAPORE, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must remain as the strong core for the country’s next phase of economic development, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran on Friday.

S Iswaran made the remarks at the Engagement with Business and Industry Leaders jointly organized by Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) and Singapore Business Federation.

He called for local SMEs to “strengthen their productivity and competitiveness, deepen their innovation capacity, and enhance their scale and international footprint” in the next phase of economic development.

The minister said the world cyclical downturn and weakening external demand have posed challenges to Singapore’s industries and businesses; what’s more, disruptive technologies and structural changes have also imposed profound long term implications for the economy.

S Iswaran added that the government has embarked on a national effort to transform industries for the next phase of economic development to sustain Singapore’s competitiveness and growth, and the SMEs are the central focus of this effort.

“We therefore want our SMEs to be productive, innovative, international businesses that can continuously adapt to the new economic environment and seize new opportunities,” said S Iswaran.

The minister outlined that CFE is looking into three aspects to cultivate innovative and competitive enterprises: to help make innovation a more pervasive part of Singapore’s business culture; to strengthen the innovation ecosystems through stronger linkages between the private and public sectors; and to leverage on Singapore’s brand and corporate landscape for companies to access regional and global opportunities.

S Iswaran also stressed strong consensus and good tripartite collaboration should be built as the country strengthens innovative capacity to develop solutions for the world.

Singapore’s SMEs, which account for 99 percent of the companies, contribute 50 percent of the nation’s GDP, and employ 70 percent of the workforce.

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