Singapore’s Competitive Advantage in the World
KEYWORD PHRASES – Singapore’s competitive advantage
When you think about Singapore, one thing that comes to your mind is its transformation from a third world country to a first world developed nation. When Singapore gained independence, it had little or nothing to develop. The time saw the city-state with minimal natural resources, little space to accommodate the immigrant population, and no support from neighboring nations. Today, Singapore has a great economy and has turned into a developed nation. Singapore stands on the pinnacle of the world along with top-tier cities like New York and London. It’s economy dwarfs many Asian, African and European economies.
A 2013 World Economic Forum report on Annual Global Competitiveness saw Singapore rank second. The report cited the city-state’s institutional framework and the sound macroeconomic environment and fiscal management as the reasons behind it.
Those who know the nation well can say that there’s much more to Singapore’s competitive advantage than these metrics. Several qualities, right from its geographical advantage and leadership quality to strategic abilities, make Singapore stand at par with world leaders.
Singapore’s location has played an important role in its transformation from a third-world country to a first-world economy. As mentioned above, the city-state had little to go on with during independence. The major disadvantage was the lack of foreign support. Had the city-state waited for foreign help, it would probably still be waiting to be developed. Rather, Singapore’s leaders utilised whatever they had to their advantage. A city-state with a harbour has the advantage of marine trade. Singapore is located right in the middle of the trade route between Europe and the Far East. The excellent harbour not only allowed ships to anchor safely but also posed a convenient centre for supply and exchange of goods and information.
Singapore took advantage of these opportunities and encouraged free trade with nations. Today, the nation’s port is the busiest and also acts beneficial for new age businesses like e-commerce. It contributes a great portion (7% as of 2015) to the nation’s GDP and acts as a competitive advantage.
The credit for Singapore’s success undoubtedly goes to the nation’s government. When it had nothing, Singapore was blessed with a leader like Lee Kuan Yew. Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s first prime minister and is credited with the engineering of city-state’s economy. He took globalisation as an approach to bring Singapore out of bad times. He has a major hand in making the city-state attractive, not only in materialistic terms but also through attributes.
Singapore’s economy is based on strong morals of pragmatism, meritocracy, and honesty. The city has practiced equality and put the nation in the hands of the one who deserves it and not the ruling class or heirs only. It has also embraced immigrants with warmth and allowed them to reap the benefits of the nation’s economy. The government is non-corrupt and practices a fair system. This has brought stability to Singapore’s economy and attracted various businesses to the nation. In times, where social and religious issues tear apart nations, Singapore definitely has the advantage of good governance.
A Do or Die Approach
Singapore has had limited or no choice always. Since it lacks the power of natural resources, the nation has to face challenges head or it may suffer a major downfall. Singapore manages challenges with a very pragmatic approach. First, it works on maintaining the hard or materialistic aspects of economic development to stay in the advanced stage. Second, it nurtures the soft sides of trust, integrity, and building a country brand. Instead of chasing the illusion of perfection, those who find opportunities in adverse times have a high chance of success. Singapore does just that. It understands the forces that impact and shape economies, reads weak signals, and responds quickly to alleviate adversities. This strategic skill is one of the most enduring competitive advantages of the nation.
A Collaborative Approach toward Talent
One of the biggest advantages is human talent. Singapore has long recognised the importance of developing and nurturing talent. A 2017 Global Talent Competitive Index compiled by INSEAD saw Singapore on the 2nd position for attracting and retaining talent. Talent management has been a problem for businesses around the world. Instead of taking competition in a negative way, i.e., implementing the approach of us versus the world, Singapore embraces a collaborative policy of us and them.
It welcomes talent from all around the world and believes in cooperation of governments and organisations with education systems to remain competitive. This mindset can bring in positive changes within industries and the economy. Additionally, it can help leaders look at competitors as partners and turn perceived threats into opportunities. With disruption taking over economies and the world moving towards a digital future, a collaborative and welcoming approach can benefit nations.
It is not only the material aspects like infrastructure and high currency value that gives nations a competitive advantage. Often strong economies are also base on positive values. Therefore. Singapore’s competitive advantage is the perfect example that involves a right mix of both.
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