Thai Coup Won’t Destabilize the Region, SPRING Singapore Says

Thailand’s political crisis won’t destabilize the region, according to Singapore’s agency in charge of developing local companies.

The nation’s “backyard” is still most important for Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises, where there are about 2.4 billion consumers within a seven-hour radius of the island, SPRING Singapore Deputy Chief Executive Ted Tan said in an interview yesterday.

“The current political crisis is just a small dip in the more stable environment,” Tan said. “Asia is still very attractive compared with Europe and the U.S. I think this is still the century of the Pacific.”

Thailand’s army chief this week took control of the country after a six-month crisis that has sapped economic growth and caused political paralysis, while violent protests in Vietnam broke out this month over the placement of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea. Small and medium-sized companies making up 99 percent of Singapore’s total often don’t have the depth of resources to go beyond the region, according to Tan, who led a delegation of business executives from 27 local companies to Germany this month.

At the same time, companies in Singapore are grappling with a crunch in the workforce amid a government clampdown on foreign labor. The government has offered tax deductions to firms that invest in equipment that helps them produce more with fewer workers.

While the shortage of labor and rising business costs are concerns, businesses have room to expand in food manufacturing, fashion design, precision engineering, logistics and clean technology, he said.

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