UPDATE 1-Business investments into Singapore rise 13%, highest in over a decade

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SINGAPORE, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Business investment commitments into Singapore rose 13% last year to their highest in more than a decade, helped by sectors such as semiconductors, energy and chemicals even as the city-state suffered its worst recession from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commitments for investments in fixed assets such as facilities, machinery and other equipment swelled to S$17.2 billion ($13 billion) in 2020, well above a medium- to long-term goal of S$8 billion to S$10 billion, data from the Economic Development Board (EDB) showed on Wednesday.

The figure is the highest since 2008. When the projects from these investments are fully implemented, they will create 19,352 new jobs in the coming years, the EDB said.

Commitments by total business expenditure, whose major components include wages and rental, fell 24% to S$6.8 billion.

Still, Singapore bagged some major wins in 2020, with China’s Tencent, Zoom Video Communications Inc and TikTok owner ByteDance planning major expansions in the city-state.

Commitments in 2020 are projected to directly contribute S$31.2 billion annually to the economy with infocommunications and media industry, which includes technology firms, forming the biggest chunk at more than a third.

While 2020 has been a challenging year, some companies that took a long-term view continued to invest in Singapore, said Beh Swan Gin, chairman of the EDB.

Companies such as Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft , are continuing to hire staff.

Singapore’s economy is on the path to a slow and patchy recovery after marking its deepest contraction in 2020.

“We are approaching the first half of 2021 with some caution. But if the COVID-19 situation stabilises in the coming months, there could be grounds for guarded optimism in the second half of 2021,” he added.

The EDB, however, cautioned that investments in fixed assets this year may not reach the levels of 2020.

$1 = 1.3262 Singapore dollars Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jacqueline Wong

source: reuters.com