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Manufacturing will remain a key pillar of Singapore's economy - says PM Lee

Singapore's economy is changing but manufacturing will remain a key pillar, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Lee said manufacturing creates good jobs for Singaporeans, integrates well with services and innovation and helps to broaden the country's economic base.

And even as Singapore strives to raise productivity it will maintain a pro-business environment.

This includes providing good infrastructure, keeping taxes low, staying open to foreign talent while encouraging employers to develop local talent pool.

Mr Lee was speaking at pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline's 40th anniversary celebration in Singapore.

Over the years, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has invested S$1.6 billion in Singapore, and helped spur growth in the biomedical sciences industry.

Mr Lee said Singapore will continue to invest in promoting the biomedical sciences sector, which is a high value and knowledge-intensive industry.

He said: "The products may be small in size, but many many man-years of research and work, and fine tuning and engineering, and organisation has gone into that.

"And that's why it commands high premiums and requires good individual skills, tight system discipline, as well as rigorous IPR (intellectual property rights) regimes. That is how Singapore has to be, to overcome constraints of size, and hold our own against bigger and much better-resourced competitors."

Mr Lee said the sector provides 18,000 good jobs, 70 percent of which are held by Singaporean workers.

The biomedical sciences industry accounts for nearly 5 percent of Singapore's economy.

Apart from the economic contributions, Mr Lee said GSK's success has benefited Singapore greatly in many ways. For instance, its positive experience gave other companies the confidence to invest in Singapore.

GSK has also played an important role in talent development. It hires over 1,000 employees in Singapore and its regional headquarters here currently manages some 40 percent of GSK's global revenue.

GSK said its two manufacturing facilities employ 590 staff in Singapore, and 90 percent of them are local.

Despite slowing global growth, the company has announced plans to invest S$40 million to S$60 million to enhance its manufacturing capabilities at one of its plants located at Quality Road in Singapore.

Mr Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said: "The fundamentals are what you have to look at, the demographics, the population growth, rising prosperity among more and more populations in the emerging economies - those are going to be the drivers of long-term growth. The story for emerging markets in the long run is very positive."

GSK posted 18.57 percent on-year drop in its net profit for the third quarter of 2012 at 1.12 billion pounds. Meanwhile, its revenue for the quarter was down five percent to about 6.53 billion pounds, partly due to weaker conditions in Europe.

The company said it has a strong product pipeline and plans to launch 15 new drugs in the next three years.

Currently, GSK manufactures 14 drugs out of Singapore for global markets.

The company also launched a commemorative book to celebrate its partnership with Singapore in the biomedical industry over the past 40 years.

(Source: CNA/ck/de)


Chemical industry