Nov 14, 2012

Singapore - Foreign investments in S'pore going strong

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Singapore is likely on track to record a strong year of foreign investments pumped into the country, despite the economic downturn.

Latest available figures show that for the first six months of the year, fixed asset investment commitments on items such as factories and machinery amounted to about S$10.6 billion (US$8.66 billion).

This is well above the level of investment commitments Singapore attracted in the first half of last year, which stood at S$6.31 billion. Last year, investment commitments totalled S$13.73 billion.

If Singapore keeps up its strong first-half performance in the latter half of the year, it could be in for another good year, said analysts.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) said in January that the investment figure could hit up to S$15 billion this year.

But if its recent high-profile announcements are anything to go by, there is reason to believe that this figure will be met or even surpassed.

In August, Germany's Evonik Industries broke ground for the construction of a 500 million euros (US$635 million) animal feed nutrients plant and is going ahead to build another 250 million euros plant.

Asked if this year could be a bumper year for investments, EDB would only say it will release the total figures for this year at its review next year.

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Philip Overmeyer said he has heard that companies are still very keen to invest despite the uncertainties in the global economy.

"Part of the reason, as always, is that Singapore still represents a stable investment," he said.

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun said the numbers look "pretty decent" given that investment commitments tend to drop with periods of slow growth.

Global growth is likely to hit just 3.3 per cent this year, lower than last year's 3.9 per cent rate.

Worry over the economic recovery in the United States and fears of a meltdown in Europe have also created a climate of uncertainty that has affected investments around the world.

Barclays Capital economist Leong Wai Ho pointed out that competition for investments has been intense.

"Look at Iskandar and how aggressive they have been. Even Korea is looking for investments. So the S$10.6 billion figure is really not a bad number," he said.

The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) said that as at September, the Iskandar region had attracted cumulative investments of 15 billion ringgit (US$4.89 billion) this year.

Singapore Business Federation chief operating officer Victor Tay said that the foreign manpower tightening could put a dampener on potential investments here.

"Singapore is still an attractive place, but we do know that big multinational firms are rethinking whether to relocate here due to the tight manpower restrictions," he said.

"So I'm not entirely sure how well we will do in the second half of the year and going forward to next year, as manpower requirements are key to any investment into a country."

US$1 = S$1.22

Aaron Low

Business & Investment Opportunities
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