It is my pleasure to address our Patron, Partners, valuable Members and Associates in my 9th year as the President of Singapore Business Group.
Looking back at 2020, it has been a roller coaster ride as we seen the heights of the global pandemic infections. Over 77 million people worldwide have been infected, and the number of deaths has crossed 1.7 million. The economic impact of the pandemic will take long to mitigate. Global stock markets saw their fastest decline in history in February March, with the worst sessions seeing 12-13% falls. Overall this is the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
We will also remember the US presidential election of 2020, among other things. Covid, economy, a divided society, Biden came into office with his hands full. On the diplomatic front, he has much work to do with the bilateral relations and the on-going trade war with China.
Britain formally withdrew from the European Union on Jan 31. But it wasn’t until Christmas that the two sides could arrive at a trade agreement. Studies have shown that UK’s GDP might drop up to 4.5%, and per capita income up to 10%.
We also saw Australia’s worst natural disaster. Nearly 186,000 sq km was burnt, and over a billion wild animals killed in the fires that raged since July 2019 to March 2020.
Back home in Singapore, we saw how we braced the full impact of covid-19 on increasing transmissions and the worst economic recession since our independence. As the pandemic stymied our economy and impacted livelihoods, our government unveiled an unprecedented pandemic-related measure to almost $93 billion or 19.2% of our GDP to support Singaporean in this battle.
In our host country, we saw how Vietnam has proven to the whole world that through resilience and unity, Vietnam has become a bright spot in the world in controlling the covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, Vietnam also successfully performed the roles of ASEAN Chair 2020, President of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), and non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2020-2021 tenure, actively making contributions to the building and shaping of multilateral institutions.
As the global economy fell into severe crisis due to the impact of COVID-19, Vietnam was one of only a few countries to maintain economic growth, with GDP rising 2-3 percent. The economy has seen a number of bright signs, such as a record trade surplus of more than 20 billion USD and 2,500 foreign-invested projects worth nearly 15 billion USD. About 180,000 new companies were set up or existing companies resumed operations, up 0.9 percent year-on-year. The disbursement of public investment posted the highest increase in the 2011-2020 period, of more than 90 percent.
Moving into 2021 will be a year of recovery globally. The roll out of vaccines has brought hope and light to the end of the tunnel. Economically, it is heartening to see that businesses across many sectors are improving. As a business group, we are here to support our members in this challenging time. Singapore Business Group is excited to announce that we have formed a new work group – F&B sub-committee; that comprises of leaders and experts in the food manufacturing, retail sectors. This work group is to band together like industry companies to find synergy and at the same time to be a platform for potential F&B investors from Singapore to Vietnam. We will roll out more sub-committees in the near future to help members (and potential members) in other sectors to gain traction and ride the wave of the economy uptick.
On behalf of Singapore Business Group, we will like to wish all a healthy and prosperous year of the Ox.
Singapore Business Group