Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy charts Singapore’s next phase of growth

ISSUE #63 – In its report released in February 2017, the 30-member committee outlined strategies to develop Singapore’s economy over the next decade. This edition of FOCUS centres around this report and put together interviews and opinions from business leaders on a range of subjects, from innovation to fintech and the workplace.



“In the future economy, our people should have deep skills and be inspired to learn throughout their lives; our businesses should be innovative and nimble; our city vibrant, connected to the world, and continually renewing itself; our Government coordinated, inclusive and responsive.”

Convened in January 2016, Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) set out to develop economic strategies to position Singapore for the future.

Taking account of new global and domestic challenges – slower global growth, demographic shifts and a rapid pace of technological change – it identified a set of “mutually-reinforcing strategies” that should help the economy to grow an average of 2 to 3% per year.

Emphasising the importance of remaining outward-looking, Co-Chair of CFE and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran says, “The imperative for Singapore remains the same – to be an open economy that is connected to the world and relevant to its needs.”

For businesses, a major theme that runs through the report is that of innovation and transformation. The CFE outlined a range of measures to promote this, from designing regulatory environments that support innovation and risk-taking, to setting up innovation launchpads and strengthening Singapore’s intellectual property ecosystem.

Following the unveiling of the report, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the government will pursue all the strategies proposed, taking a “hard-headed, pragmatic approach”.

Here are some of the recommendations of the committee:

Deepen and Diversify Global Connections

  • Work with like-minded partners to advance the liberalisation of trade and investment, including those in less traditional markets;
  • Strengthen trade cooperation, reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers, such as through the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that includes China and India;
  • Set up a Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) to bring together Singapore universities and companies with overseas partners in major innovation hubs and key demand markets;
  • Develop stronger ties and deepen regional market expertise of ASEAN, China and India.

Stimulate Growth Capital

  • Enhance the financing ecosystem for the next generation of startups, through measures looking at simplifying the regulatory framework for venture capital firms, and encouraging private equity players to be based in Singapore;
  • Develop new forms of support for private financing of Singapore companies;
  • Expand public financing channels and support the Singapore Exchange (SGX) as a listing venue for companies in high-technology, bio-pharmaceutical and life sciences industries and allowing dual-class share structures with appropriate safeguards to mitigate governance risks.

Strengthen Companies’ Capabilities to Innovate and Scale-Up

  • Encourage partnerships between large and small enterprises;
  • Develop a standardised IP protocol for all agencies to simplify commercialisation processes of research findings and intellectual property;
  • Provide targeted assistance for high-growth enterprises.

Strengthen Competitiveness in Key Clusters and Verticals

  • Expand schemes to support key growth clusters such as advanced manufacturing, hub services, logistics, urban solutions and infrastructure and healthcare;
  • Strengthen the existing base of activities in finance, trading, HQ and professional services
  • Enable cross-industry partnerships to foster synergies across industries;
  • Use lead demand more systematically to support development of promising industries;
  • Create a regulatory environment to support innovation and risk-taking.

Build Digital Capabilities as a Source of Comparative Advantage

  • Establish a dedicated programme office to support companies in making the most of data as an asset;
  • Promote digital adoption across government, industries and companies;
  • Establish joint laboratories with industry players to build deep capabilities in data analytics and cybersecurity.

Acquire Deeper Skills and Harness Human Capital

  • Facilitate training, reskilling and employment of workers;
  • Encourage modularised and technology-enabled training programmes;
  • Strengthen coordination of global talent into Singapore to create value for the economy.

Invest in Physical and Social Infrastructure to Support Strategies

  • Continually invest in international connections: airport, seaport, high-speed rail, HetNet;
  • Rejuvenate existing areas and enhance physical landscape;
  • Build partnerships for a vibrant city.




The CFE is a 30-member committee convened in January 2016 to develop economic strategies for Singapore. Led by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran, it consulted with over 9,000 workers, unions, companies, trade bodies and academics to put together a 109-page report on how Singapore’s future economy can look like. Comprised of public- and private-sector participants, like the Economic Strategies Committee before it, its recommendations help shape Singapore’s economic policies.


Source: Singapore’s Report of the Committee on the Future Economy

Published in FOCUS Magazine — Issue #2 2017 “Future Economy”