Saturday, 16 Oct 2021

As some sectors thrive, others need new business model: Chan Chun Sing

Just six months ago, South Korean pop darling IU belted out her hits to a packed hall at The Star Theatre over two days.

But with the coronavirus, such days of sell-out K-pop concerts are over, at least for a while, possibly rendering concert organisers dispensable. Live shows have been banned around the world to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, and many entertainers have moved to streaming their performances online.

Recently, German football league Bundesliga returned to action with games played in empty stadiums and live streamed to fans.

Citing these developments, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the entertainment industry is among those that will require a new business model as the pandemic refashions the economy.

“Fundamentally, the demand has changed, and perhaps people’s way of life also is going to change,” said Mr Chan, as he outlined the sectors that Singapore should invest in and attract, as well as those that need to change.

In Singapore, online retail, biopharma, information and communications technology (ICT), 5G, wealth management, banking, finance and autonomous vehicle technology are among the sectors that have seen increased economic output, he said. The renewable energy, clean technology and logistics sectors have also been performing well, he added.

Economic data from the first three months of the year showed that the manufacturing sector expanded by 6.6 per cent compared with the same period last year, boosted by growth in biomedical manufacturing, precision engineering and transport engineering.

ICT is among the sectors that have continued to recruit many fresh graduates this year.

With demand for products and services in these areas expected to grow, Mr Chan said Singapore will continue to invest in these sectors to create good jobs for its people.

They also play to Singapore’s strengths, such as connectivity and reputation for trusted standards and quality, he added.

He also sees opportunities in providing services and products for online meetings and collaborations, which have become the norm as people around the world are asked to work and learn from home.

Singapore could look into providing security services for such online activities, for instance.

Then, there are the bricks-and-mortar businesses in retail and food and beverage, which have already seen a drop in demand before the virus hit, due to structural changes to the economy.

Now, with safe distancing measures in place, many of these firms are struggling to survive.

Until a vaccine is found, these industries will have to find a new way to connect with customers, Mr Chan said, adding that the Government will help.

Offering online shopping, for instance, can help retailers retain their customers and overcome the constraints of Singapore’s limited domestic market to grow their business overseas, he added.

Meanwhile, the challenge for restaurants, pubs and other food outlets will be to come up with new concepts that will allow patrons to dine in-house safely.

The tourism industry is another sector that has come under severe pressure, with travel having ground to a standstill.

Mr Chan believes travel will progressively resume, and future infrastructure that has been planned, such as Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 and the expansion of the integrated resorts, will remain relevant in the long term. What these projects now face is “more of a timeline issue”, he said.

The challenge is to decide when to phase in the projects to keep pace with demand and competition from other similar projects elsewhere, he added.

Mr Chan said people who may travel during this period are likely to be those who will opt for niche tourism services instead of mass market tourism services, and Singapore will look to develop this area to help the industry recover.

He said: “There are many areas where we need to reinvent ourselves, but there are also many areas where there are many opportunities that we should seize.”

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