SINGAPORE (Kyodo) — New investment commitments in Singapore's manufacturing sector doubled to S$16.1 billion (about US$11 billion) last year from S$8.8 billion in 2006 despite global competition for foreign investment, a government agency said Monday.
The Economic Development Board, the country's investment promotion agency, said it is the first time that fixed asset investment commitments, which comprise mainly foreign investment, crossed the S$10 billion mark.
Europe was the largest foreign investor with S$8.4 billion, a fourfold jump from 2006, and accounting for slightly more than half of the total investment.
The United States was the second largest foreign investor with S$3 billion, up slightly from S$2.2 billion in 2006, and representing about 19 percent of the total investment.
Investment commitments from Japan, Singapore's third largest foreign investor, dwindled to S$1 billion from S$1.3 billion in 2006, while its share of total investment shrank from 14 percent to 6 percent.
Fifty-three percent of manufacturing investment committed last year was meant for the chemicals industry, while 32 percent was for the electronics industry.
''We saw many mega projects coming that would anchor our key industries,'' said EDB Chairman Lim Siong Guan. ''We attracted innovative and high-tech companies to Singapore that brought new (capabilities). All these projects will position Singapore well for future growth...which enhances our competitive advantage.''
China, India and Middle Eastern countries have also started to show more interest in investing in Singapore in recent years, officials said.
Despite an expected global economic slowdown, the agency is projecting up to S$18 billion worth of foreign investment this year, officials said, adding that investors tend to look at the long term when making investment decisions.
The latest data show that Singapore is still attractive to investors despite fierce competition from China, India and other emerging countries, and also despite high business costs such as rentals in the city-state due to land shortage and a booming property market, and a strong Singapore dollar which could hurt export competitiveness.
International schools for expatriates' children, which have been bursting at the seams, are now being urged by the government to expand to cope with the influx of foreigners.
The new investment commitments secured last year include American oil giant ExxonMobil Chemical's multibillion dollar petrochemical plant, Finnish refiner Neste Oil's S$1.2 billion investment biodiesel plant and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis' S$1 billion biotechnological plant.