Associates Breakfast with Beh Swan Gin, Chairman, Singapore Economic Development Board

November 18, 2010

Santa Monica


Singapore is posting a year of blockbuster growth. In fact, its government is keeping an eye on overheating - certainly a problem the United States would love to have.

What has this island nation done right, and why is it a leader in the global recovery? Beh Swan Gin, managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board, answered those questions and more at an interactive private breakfast with the Milken Institute Associates.

One factor is Singapore's commitment to investing in human capital and public-sector R&D. A highly effective education system is producing a skilled high-tech workforce, and its manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 30 percent this year.

The biomedical sector is a particular point of pride. According to Beh, Singapore has "attracted star scientists, but now commercialization is the challenge." Singapore is focusing on translational research, training clinician scientists, oncology and opthamology (not surprising because, as Beh noted wryly, "60 percent of Singaporeans wear glasses").

In the past, Beh noted, U.S. and European firms thought of Singapore in terms of offshoring. But in the last 24 months, the relationship has changed. Today they're interested in tapping new markets.

"Any CEO has to have an Asia growth strategy, and many companies are selecting Singapore for their Asian headquarters," said Beh, pointing to Unilever, P&G, Applied Materials and Rolls-Royce.

The financial services sector is growing as Singapore continues to attract fund managers and private banking operations. Beh noted Singapore's appeal to China's new elite and to Chinese firms seeking to go global.

Beh summed up Singapore as "an open global city" where 25 percent of residents are from other nations and luxury travel is on the rise. "It's our goal to be a stop in the circuit where you build your career."

This event was open only to Milken Institute Associates. To join or learn more, please contact Mindy Silverstein, Director of the Associates, at (310) 570-4634 or