Speech by DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the groundbreaking ceremony of Evonik's second Methionine plant on Jurong Island on 19 October 2016.
Dr. Werner Mueller, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Evonik Industries,
Dr. Klaus Engel, Chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries,
Mr. Christian Kullmann, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries
Dr. Ralph Sven Kaufmann, Chief Operating Officer, Evonik Industries AG
Dr. Reiner Beste, Chairman of the Management Board, Evonik Nutrition & Care GmbH
Your Excellency, Dr Karl Michael Witter, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to join you this morning for the Groundbreaking Ceremony of Evonik’s second Methionine plant on Jurong Island. In fact, less than two years ago – on 4 Nov, 2014 – it was my privilege to officiate at the opening of Evonik’s first Methionine plant.
This morning’s groundbreaking is a significant step forward in Evonik’s long journey of collaboration with Singapore. It began with Degussa, which set up operations in Singapore in 1969. Evonik has in more recent years established its regional headquarters in Singapore, opened an innovation laboratory, and besides its first Methionine plant also doubled its manufacturing capacity for oil additives last year.
Building for long term growth
But the most significant statement today has to do with Evonik and Singapore’s commitment to build capabilities for the future. Two points are worth highlighting.
First, the fact that Evonik is building its second world scale Methionine plant so soon after its first is a statement of confidence in Singapore as a location for high value manufacturing. I understand that such plants are typically built once every seven to eight years. I thank you for this confidence.
Second, this new plant shows how, amidst a weak and uncertain global economic climate, both Evonik and Singapore are positioning ourselves for future growth.
- Singapore’s current economic growth is weak for essentially cyclical reasons - the combination of the downcycles in industries like the offshore and marine sector, and the large decline in oil and other commodity prices that has dampened demand in the region around us.
- But there is no lack of opportunity over the next 5 years and beyond. Asia is seeing a historic shift of populations into the middle-income group, generating strong consumption growth. By 2030, Asian middle class consumers are expected to account for over 60% of the global middle class.
This second specialty chemical plant by Evonik will tap into this growth opportunity - specifically, the rapid growth of consumption of poultry in the region as a result of rising affluence and an increasing preference for lean meat in people’s daily diet. (The plant will produce an essential amino acid used as a nutritional component of poultry feed.) The Asia Pacific already accounts for more than a fifth of Evonik’s entire group sales in 2015, with Singapore being at the centre of its Asian strategy.
Evonik’s plants are a good example of a number of recent investments in Singapore’s Energy & Chemicals sector that are similarly aimed at riding Asia’s growth.
- Other recent examples include Afton’s Lubricant Additive plant this year , which supplies material for fuel efficient lubricants.
- 3M recently expanded its Tuas manufacturing plant to increase the production capacity of their adhesives, protection film and film dressings, which are used for products in the automotive, electronic and healthcare sectors.
Innovation and high-skill jobs in specialty chemicals
To complement our manufacturing capabilities, Singapore is also investing heavily in innovation.
Evonik, for example, has its Tego upstream R&D lab in Singapore. The lab aims to synthesize and invent new molecular structures as well as develop new chemical processes, so as to shorten the time-to-market for products in your new coatings and additives business unit.
However, the developments in manufacturing as well as in research and development are only possible with the active involvement and support of our people.
Evonik’s methionine plants, which use advanced proprietary technologies, will create more high skill jobs here. The new production plant will itself create more than 150 skilled jobs, mainly for technicians and engineers. Evonik, supported by the Government, plans to train employees and develop a strong Singaporean core in its operations here.
It complements our broader efforts to develop the skills needed for the jobs of the future. For example, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for the energy and chemicals sector, rolled-out in May 2016, provides an 18-month long programme of structured on-the-job training and mentorship across eight companies.
SSG and EDB are engaging the industry to co-create the Skills Framework for Energy and Chemicals. The Skills Framework will provide information on employment opportunities, career pathways, existing and emerging skills in-demand, and education and training programmes to facilitate skills upgrading and mastery. It will enable individuals who wish to join or progress within the Energy and Chemicals sector to assess their career interest and skills gaps, and identify relevant education and training programmes to upgrade their skills and prepare for their desired jobs.
In closing, I would like to congratulate Evonik on the Groundbreaking of your second world scale methionine manufacturing plant today. Thank you, Evonik, for your continued trust and confidence in Singapore, and we look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership.
 An upstream R&D Lab for their Coatings & Additives Business Unit, comprising 2 synthesis labs and 1 development lab. The lab aims to synthesize and invent new molecular structures, develop new chemical processes so as to shorten their time-to-market for their products relating to solvent-borne additives and resins for coating, printing inks and varnishes
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