Singapore’s manufacturing sector has emerged as a regional economic powerhouse contributing at least 25% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A large component of this sector - electronics - has attracted substantial foreign investments as well as value-added output and employment, contributing close to 30% of the manufacturing output. Of the US$12 billion in fixed assets investments in 2008, electronics accounted for a third, but for 2009, the investment value is expected to contract by almost half. Singapore-based electronics manufacturers account for 10% global market share for semiconductor wafer foundry output and 25% global market share for printers. The world’s top three wafer foundry companies, top three sub-contract assembly-and-test companies, and top four fabless IC design companies all have facilities in Singapore.
There are increasing opportunities for Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) companies to pursue in the areas of medical devices (diagnostic), aerospace (navigation) and industrial equipment. Many of the world’s top EMS companies such as Flextronics, Solectron and Venture are located in Singapore, which is becoming an attractive base of high value-added production activities. Another electronic component technology that is being developed in Singapore is the Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) which may one day replace LCD panels. In 2008, the electronics sector contributed slightly more than US$11 billion towards manufacturing output. Opportunities exist in the semiconductors, data storage and electronic modules, advanced displays, and components (such as capacitors, diodes and integrated circuits) industries. However, global demand especially from Japan, Europe and the United States has dropped drastically in view of the current financial crisis and will remain so for the next six months. It was recently reported that PC shipments in the last quarter of 2008 have dipped to their lowest in six years.
The precision engineering industry, which supports the EMS companies, is an important sector of the Singapore economy. Through the supply of components, tooling and equipment, this industry provides integral support to the manufacturing sector across the electronics, transport engineering and medical devices industries. The Singapore government plans to spend close to US$5 billion over the next five years to foster research and high-end production in industries such as precision engineering and biomedical sciences with the aim of replacing assembly lines that are moving to lower cost countries. Beyond mainstream industries, Singapore is working towards developing high-growth potential areas such as photonics, nanotechnology and micro-electrical-mechanical systems.
The Government of Singapore still expects to greatly expand manufacturing output by 2020 and has aimed to double the current total manufacturing output to US$201 billion and double the current total manufacturing value-added to US$53.7 billion. As a result of this projected growth, more than 20,000 jobs are expected to be created in the manufacturing and the service sectors in the coming years. Two U.S. companies with extensive electronics expertise – Hewlett Packard and Texas Instruments, have invested nearly US$10 billion combined. Singapore is also a leading manufacturer of enterprise hard disk drives with companies such as Seagate and Hitachi. The country accounts for 80% of the world’s enterprise hard disk drives.