Issue 118, January 2013
How will Singapore’s economy fare in 2013?
Experts discuss possible scenarios and potential opportunities for Singapore at the 23rd Distinguished Alumni Forum

At the ‘Economic Outlook 2013’ forum organised by the NTU Alumni Affairs Office, forum participants learnt more about the future of the Singapore economy and the various challenges that businesses might face. The session was chaired by Professor Euston Quah, Head of the Division of Economics at NTU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).

Professor Chew Soon Beng, an alumnus (Commerce/1971) and Professor of Economics and Industrial Relations at NTU’s HSS, outlined various factors affecting Singapore’s GDP growth. These ranged from quantitative easing by governments of the United States, European Union and Japan, rising wage costs within Singapore itself due to economic restructuring and low population growth, among other factors. Using Professor Lim Chong Yah’s “S Curve Theory”, Prof Chew showed how the Singapore economy has changed from being a “Horse Economy” with galloping growth rates to an “Elephant Economy” that is characterised by high income but low growth rates. He concluded that Singapore’s GDP growth in 2013 “cannot be high”. 

The next speaker, Mr Inderjit Singh (EEE/1985) is a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC) and also a well-known entrepreneur who has established several successful companies.  He presented two possible scenarios in 2013. In the first, there is modest growth, with the economies of China, India, and the United States recovering. Singapore will then be able to achieve 2-3% growth, as the Singapore Government had forecasted. In the second scenario, Europe’s recession deepens, the US goes back into recession, China’s property bubble bursts and India fails to reform its economy. Singapore will then go into a deep recession, and it may take the country about two years to recover, in tandem with China. However, Mr Inderjit also highlighted potential growth opportunities that Singapore can look to tap, in the Silver Industries, in Asian and ASEAN growth, and in Iskandar Malaysia.

Mr Lawrence Leow Chin Hin, Executive Chairman and CEO of the Crescendas Group and a former Nominated Member of Parliament, highlighted the challenges that Small and Medium Enterprises will face in 2013, including rising costs, increasing competition, and tightening of credit and loan facilities, and others.

The forum ended with a lively question-and-answer session. More than 200 participants attended the forum held on 22 January.

© Alumni Affairs Office