Singapore - the economic powerhouse in East Asia
By Dr Srimal Fernando Asia Correspondent
As one of the populous countries in Asia, Singapore boasts of a progressive and modern industrial economy. It has been the watershed in distribution of welfare and socio- economic development to the people of the country. Having moved ahead on the path of prosperity, the country has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world with a remarkable economic growth.
The people in the country enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Singapore is also one of wealthiest nations in Asia on its way to consolidate its position as an economic powerhouse. Over the years, the past and present Governments of Singapore took an active role in guiding the nation's economic development and worked to integrate the country into the global economic marketplace.
The story of the country’s economic success began several decades ago, when the economy of the country grew to astounding double digit figures. The first stage of Singapore’s economic development extended from 1965 through 1975. During this period the country averaged an annual economic growth rate to an astounding figure of over 12 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
During the boom years the country's economy has been growing steadily and transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. Since the sixties the Trade Development Board, The National Productivity Board (NPB), The Telecommunications Authority of Singapore, Jurong Town Corporation, the Small Enterprise Bureau and the Stock Exchange of Singapore contributed greatly to maintain its momentum on sustained rapid economic growth.
For decades Singapore’s booming economy responded to internal and external challenges with great creativity and initiatives. Due to its strategic location the country has been at the grand gateway to East Asia and to five of Asia's most prominent aviation hubs: Beijing, Tokyo, Soul, Sydney, Dubai and vice-versa.
The latest GDP figures show that the country’s economy grew better-than-expected with an average annual economic growth rate of 4.9 percent last year (Estimates 2011). Singapore’s economy is mainly driven by growing exports of machinery, electronic equipment, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and mineral fuels. These account for the bulk of Singapore’s exports. In 2010 the turnover of the country’s exports was estimated at USD 350 billion.
Singapore is emerging as a strong tourist destination with number of visitors to the country climbing to 11.6 million in 2010. The country’s efficient, fast and comfortable transport system has already achieved measurable improvements. The country has several paved highways to bolster the 3200 kilometers of state road system. Having doubled its length in recent years, a multi-lane railway system covers a total length of over 130 kilometers.
According to the World Bank report of 2010, the country is ranked No 2 in logistics.
The four- terminal Changi Airport is one of the most important aviation hubs in the world and is a major aviation gateway to the Middle East and the Far East aviation lines. This Airport is a major stop over point for over 100 international airlines. The airport’s passenger traffic reached an historic 46.5 million passengers in 2011. The airport serves as a base to Singapore Airlines, the flag carrier of the country.
The strong economic development in Singapore has led to increasing cargo volumes, international trade and maritime connectivity with the rest of the world. This award winning port has transformed the country to an important trans-shipment point with shipping, logistic services; bunkering, dry docking for ship repairs, refueling and refining .
Demand for petroleum refining and oil storage in Singapore has seen a large year-to-year increase as the world's third largest oil-trading center. The Oil Refinery capacity of the country has the capacity to produce 1.3 million barrels per day.
The country's port is the world’s busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage. In 2011 the amount of cargo handled at the award winning PSA Singapore terminal rose to 29.37 millions TEUs. The well developed manufacturing sector is the cornerstone of economic development providing a platform for job creation and economic growth. The sector played a significant role in industrial base and volume of foreign trade in Singapore. The manufacturing sector contributes approximately 28 percent to the country’s GDP and produces a diverse range of goods. The country has also positioned itself as a key destination for operation of multinational companies in a variety of industries. Today, the country has brought about revolutionary improvements into its economy through logistics and supply chain management, aerospace engineering, marine & offshore engineering, healthcare, medical technology, consumer business, education, media, entertainment and software development.
The country's economy remains strong as a result of public- private partnership that plays a significant role in economic stability of the country. Recent years also witnessed an increasing trend in Singaporeans investing globally.
Singapore continues to remain one of the most important trading partners in the world that offers an exciting platform and a business window for launching new investments aimed at both the local and regional markets.