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The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum - Watch DPM Tharman's keynote speech

Updated: May 6, 2021


- Summary for US, China & Sinagpore

1. There is a steady shift to a new phase in global affairs

a. Slower economic growth for many years to come, especially due to changing demographics in many countries

b. Slower growth in trade, especially due to the evolution of the Chinese economy

2. In the US:

a. Jobs are disappearing in the middle of the workforce

b. Jobs are unfilled because employers cannot find people with the right skills

c. Looming pensions and healthcare financing crisis

3. In China:

a. China is now producing more of parts which it used to import from countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Japan, resulting in slower trade growth

b. Its working age population is beginning to decline in absolute terms; its slower growth will be driven not by workforce but by innovation and technology

4. What does this mean for Singapore?

a. We will have slower growth for many years to come

b. Our trade growth will slow as well

c. We must get used to lower labour force growth

d. The only way we can grow is by raising productivity

e. What this comes down to is to grow through innovation - We have to move towards an economy driven by innovation, and also an innovative society.

5. What must we do?

a. Through SkillsFuture

i. Equip people with skills to work in a technology-enriched world

ii. Invest and develop everyone’s abilities and skills through life

b. Develop chains of innovation that combine the strengths of large firms with small firms, foreign firms with local firms

c. Start a cultural change

i. Take pride in the deep mastery of skills so that we become masters of what we do

ii. Move away from an obsession with grades and focus on giving children diverse experiences

6. Singaporeans can thrive even in a world of greater uncertainty and softer economic growth.

a. It remains a world of opportunities for those who innovate, and for those who achieve a mastery of skills

7. To watch the keynote speech by DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Straits Times Global Outlook Forum, please visit:…/watch-dpm-tharmans-keynote-sp…

8. For other related articles on the Straits Times Global Outlook Forum, please visit:

At the ST Global Outlook Forum on 20 Nov, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam spoke of the structural challenges facing the slowing global economy and stressed the need to innovate, master skills and nurture creativity so as to seize opportunities. Above are key points from his speech.

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