2017 was a better year for the global economy. With a synchronous upswing across all major regions, global GDP growth reached 3.8% – a pace not seen since 2011. The momentum is expected to be sustained in 2018. But we have to deal with heightened risks of trade protectionism and the effects of rising US interest rates in the year ahead.
The Singapore economy has also performed well, and should continue its steady expansion this year. Trade-related and modern services sectors will continue to anchor growth. Domestic-related activities could also pick up over the course of the year amid a firming labour market. Overall, GDP growth is expected to be 2.5-3.5% in 2018.
Related to this, MAS Core Inflation is projected to gradually increase, to 1.5–2% for the year. Monetary policy was thus tightened in a measured move in April this year, to ensure medium-term price stability.
The Singapore residential property market has also picked up over the past year, with increases in both prices and transactions. Our property market measures remain necessary, both to ensure a sustainable residential property market and to encourage financial prudence among households.
MAS launched the Financial Services Industry Transformation Map last year, setting out strategies to grow the financial sector, harness innovation and create good jobs.
We are steadily implementing plans to support financing for infrastructure development, trade, and enterprise for Asia. We are working to grow Singapore into a global liquidity and price discovery centre for foreign exchange trading in the Asian time zone. The introduction of the Singapore Variable Capital Company legal and regulatory framework will also help position Singapore as a global hub for fund management and domiciliation. And we are developing Singapore as a global capital for risk transfer, offering a full spectrum of risk management strategies.
We are making good progress in our digital transformation journey. Our FinTech ecosystem is growing robustly, with a global marketplace of ideas and experimentation. We have made headway in electronic payments, with the introduction of PayNow and the common Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) to provide swift, simple, seamless and secure ways of making payments.
To progress as a digital economy, we need to ensure that our people in the financial sector are equipped with deep specialist skills and expertise to leverage technology and data. MAS is working with partners to develop more professional conversion programmes as well as career advisory and job placement services, to better support the growth and development of the workforce.
Sound regulation and rigorous supervision remain key to fostering stability and confidence in the financial sector. To strengthen cyber resilience across the industry, MAS has provided regulatory guidance on managing this major new sphere of risks. We will continue to strengthen our technology risk supervision and cyber threat response capabilities. MAS has intensified its surveillance and supervision, including through the use of data analytics, of risks associated with money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing. We have taken tough regulatory actions against breaches, and deepened collaboration with industry and global counterparts to strengthen Singapore’s resilience against illicit finance.
But we can never lose sight of the fact that a robust and trusted financial centre is ultimately underpinned by a culture of ethical behaviour and responsible risk taking. MAS has proposed guidelines to raise standards of accountability and conduct across industry.
In connection with Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN this year, we successfully hosted the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in April 2018. ASEAN members agreed to work together on key areas such as infrastructure development, cyber security collaboration, enterprise financing, and to strengthen natural disaster risk resilience as well as foster innovation and financial inclusion.
On behalf of the Board, I thank all MAS staff, our partners and financial industry players for their contributions to Singapore’s distinctive reputation for both stability and innovation, and its increasing role as a hub that serves a growing Asia and the world.
Link to the Annual Report microsite: http://www.mas.gov.sg/annual_reports/annual20172018/index.html
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