CPTPP expected to boost Singapore’s total exports and GDP by 0.2%
1 Key print and broadcast media reported on Minister Chan Chun Sing’s parliamentary reply on 6 August, that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is expected to boost Singapore’s total exports and GDP by 0.2 per cent by 2035. Reports noted the four benefits that the trade deal will bring to Singapore companies: (i) good producers will be able to tap on the preferential tariffs when exporting to a CPTPP nation; (ii) service providers can have preferential access to a wide range of sectors; (iii) Singaporean investors will no longer be subjected to foreign equity restrictions in CPTPP markets; and (iv) Singaporean enterprises will be able to bid for government tenders in Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam, which were previously closed to foreign bidders. Beyond specific business opportunities, Min Chan noted that the value of the CPTPP is in establishing a common set of enforceable rules that govern trade and investment in the 21st century. He added that MTI will continue to work with other agencies and trade associations and chambers (TACs) to reach out to Singapore firms on the benefits of the CPTPP.
ESG has given about $10m to 9 TACs for capability upgrading
2 CNA reported on Minister Chan’s parliamentary reply that Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has given out about S$10 million to 9 TACs as of the end of June, as part of the enhanced Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme. With the grant, TACs are encouraged to raise their internal competencies so as to champion industry transformation more effectively. Min Chan noted that TACs are able to complement efforts by government agencies to support and reach out to a wide pool of enterprises, with their extensive business networks and an in-depth understanding of industry needs and growth opportunities. He added that we the partnership between the Government and TACs must continue to evolve and strengthen as Singapore moves into a new phase of economic development.
OEM to be extended to the rest of Singapore from Q4 2018
3 CNA reported that the Open Electricity Market (OEM) remains on track to be extended to the rest of Singapore from Q4 2018. The written Parliamentary reply by Min Chan noted that the progressive introduction of competition into the local power market is one of the steps taken by Energy Market Authority (EMA) to improve price competitiveness here. The report noted that Singapore’s reliance on imported fuel has led to our electricity prices being largely swayed by movements in the global energy markets. As such, to encourage companies to strive to be more cost-effective and offer better customer service, EMA has progressively introduced competition into the electricity market since the 1990s, with larger businesses having the option of not buying solely from SP Group at the regulated tariff since 2001. Min Chan added that the Government is also looking to diversify Singapore’s electricity generation sources to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global fuel prices.
Min Heng: There’s a role for all in promoting new ideas
4 Key media reported on Minister Heng Swee Keat’s remarks at the launch of Singtel’s FutureNow Innovation Centre, where he noted that the continued push for innovation requires an ecosystem that allows for collaboration. Min Heng said that everyone, including the Government, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and educational and research institutions, has a role to play. Min Heng noted that innovation is not merely an end goal but also a growing process and mindset which comprises experimentation, failure, learning lessons and re-experimenting. The FutureNow Innovation Centre aims to help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation to remain competitive and relevant in the digital economy in support of the Government’s Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs). Min Heng noted that “Singtel is putting together its expertise in the telco market, familiarity with Singapore and regional customber bases, and exposure to digital solutions, to partner SMEs to digitalise and innovate.”
ST Opinion: Why dominant and small players are treated differently
5 ST carried an opinion piece by Mr Burton Ong, associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore. Mr Ong noted that exclusivity arrangements, like that of the Grab-Uber merger, could be pro-competitive or anti-competitive, depending on the market circumstances in which such practices are deployed. Such arrangements could enhance the competitiveness of a smaller market or could also be harmful to competition by raising barriers to market entry. However, he noted that the competition authorities around the world regards exclusivity arrangements to be more likely harmful to competition, particularly when they are imposed by entities in a position of market dominance, because they could exclude their rivals from the market by “locking in” suppliers, distributors or other service providers. In this regard, any prohibition by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) against Grab entering into exclusive dealings with its drivers would not be entirely absolute or perpetual – it might be revised, relaxed or removed as the degree of market power changes with the entry and growth of new rivals.
BT Opinion: Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA a win-win for both sides
6 BT carried an opinion piece by Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja (chair of the Global Economy Programme at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies in Sri Lanka) and Dr Amitendu Palit (senior research fellow and research lead for Trade and Economics at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at NUS). They noted that while bilateral ties between Singapore and Sri Lanka seem to be warm, there isn’t an equal robustness in trade and business ties. As such, the Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA (SLSFTA) which came into effect in May 2018 would change this inequality. Both countries would significantly benefit from the SLSFTA, with Sri Lanka gaining through import of cheaper consumer goods and intermediate inputs, FDI and technology transfer and healthy competition for domestic producers. Singapore would benefit from greater access and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s growing economy and its strategic location. The SLSFTA underlines Singapore’s search for trade and investment partners beyond East and Southeast Asia and its recognition of Sri Lanka’s potential as a trading hub in the Indian Ocean region. Through the SLSFTA, Sri Lanka would also move closer to becoming a formal part of the ASEAN trade architecture. The agreement also marks the possibility of Sri Lanka joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and becoming a core element of Asia’s big FTA game. Furthermore, the trade agreement also symbolises greater institutional bonding between South Asia and Southeast Asia, and between the global trade traffic encompassing the maritime spaces of Malacca Strait, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Dr Wignaraja and Dr Palit noted that this integration of maritime trade and business is great news at a time when global trade prospects are threatened by uncertainties.
BT Leaders of Transformation Series: Finding a real market for VR
7 In its Leaders of Transformation series, BT featured production house Sora Media, which has taken a leap into producing virtual reality (VR) content to differentiate themselves from others in the industry. According to co-founder Ericson Gangoso, “The technology is so fast, you need to up your game. It’s not just knowing how to frame and to focus, but you also need to change your skills.” Through an initiative by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), which brought together companies with VR capabilities and narrative content creators, Sora Media was matched with VizioFly and Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific to create a mini-series. Set to launch this September, the mini-series will be one of Asia’s first videos to premiere to a global audience on Discovery’s VR app. Co-founder Kelly Lin however, shared that VR is a challenging area to explore, as all the skills and rules applicable to traditional filming do not apply to VR and Sora Media had to rethink their story-telling methods. In addition, being one of the first movers in the field means that the company does not have much background formation to draw upon. While focusing on creating content, Sora Media is also collaborating with other organisations to broaden its reach and share their capabilities. It is currently working with MOE to create VR content. Kelly Lin said, “this generation of kids, I think, will be the ones growing up in VR, so it will become sort of normal for them to learn in VR.” Sora Media is also looking to partner educational institutions for an internship programme, as many of Sora Media’s advertising clients are targeting the younger generations, these young interns are potential creators who will be able to give the company insights to their demographic.
This story was facilitated by MTI-CCD.
Posted on Tuesday, 7 August 2018