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Singapore Raises Manufacturing vs Services Debate

Posted By Paul Tate, April 26, 2011 at 3:57 AM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

Can you have a vibrant services sector without the support of manufacturing?

New economic proposals by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Tan Jee Say suggesting a move away from manufacturing in the Asian city-state to focus more on the services sector, are meeting with widespread opposition as senior politicians and industrialists stress the critical link between manufacturing and services.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong cautioned that manufacturing had been one of the key factors that brought Singapore out of the recession and the state should think carefully before making such a transformational move.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang noted that the manufacturing sector is important because it creates many synergies and linkages for other industries to grow, such as financing and wholesale. “We don't think that collectively or individually, all these services will take up the slack if we give up manufacturing," said Mr Lim.

People's Action Party's candidate Grace Fu added: 'If you do not have the manufacturing ability to make the product that you design, very soon you will find that you are much more restricted in what your services sector could do.'

Singapore currently employs around 420,000 people in blue-collar manufacturing jobs. The sector accounts for around a quarter of the Singaporean economy. Manufacturing output rose by 22% in March over the same period in 2010, driven mostly by Singapore's biomedical, precision engineering and electronics clusters.

Do you think that manufacturing and services need each other to make an economy function effectively?

Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive


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