The COVID-19 pandemic has catalysed all of these trends.
Amidst all the negative things that happened in 2020, four emerging “rainbow” trends in Singapore were laid out in the “Singapore Year Ahead” report recently released by Maybank’s investment arm Maybank Kim Eng.
One of the trends highlighted was the city-state’s strengthening hub status.
“Whilst Singapore has historically positioned itself as a global and regional hub across multiple sectors, COVID-19 enhanced this,” the report said, noting the two key free trade deals—the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership—that were added to its list of existing bi- and multilateral agreements cementing its global connectivity.
“In April 2020, we saw non-residential deposit growth peaking at 44% YoY, consolidating Singapore’s safe-haven status regionally,” the report added.
Moreover, Maybank Kim Eng said its neutral position in the US-China trade war as well as the ongoing shift in supply chains as countries adopt China+1 strategies, should also benefit Singapore as a hub for multinational company and regional corporate HQ relocations.
This growing hub status could benefit the financial sector in the medium term, and the industrial as well as healthcare sectors, developers and REITS could also do well due to external investment opportunities and demand for relocation space.
Another rainbow trend noted was the ongoing rapid digitalisation of organisations, propelled forwards by COVID-19 as well. Even industries which have historically lagged in terms of adopting technology were forced to adapt, including banking, consumer especially retail, restaurants and consumer products, and property developers.
Concurrently, there’s also a stronger environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration in the city-state, the report said.
“The post-COVID-19 economic rebuilding programmes by regional governments are also taking a more sustainable approach as a means of job creation and incentivising North-South supply chain shifts,” the report said. “Separately, corporates are diversifying their funding mixes to include higher proportions of green and sustainable financing.”
Moreover, the city-state has been a prominent tech enabler. In spite of movement restrictions imposed by regulations implemented to curb the coronavirus, the technology value chain has been resilient. According to Maybank Kim Eng, these disruptions resulted in a “positive reinforcing feedback loop for technology enablers such as data centres, cloud computing, 5G and AI” as more organisations and consumers made the digital jump.
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