Speech delivereed by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Opening of the Trade Association Hub on 22 November 2017.
面对日新月异，竞争激烈的商业环境，像商团中心这样的一个合作平台， 能让中小型商家共享知识和资源，从中受惠。据了解，商团中心还有出租空间。 商团中心的成功取决于各位的踊跃参与。所以， 我希望其他商团会考虑入驻。 善加这里的设施，加强与其他商团的关系，集思广益，从中找到新商机。
Mr Roland Ng, President, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI)
Leaders of Trade Associations and Chambers
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Very happy to be here today for the official opening of the Trade Association (TA) Hub at Jurong Town Hall. This building was completed in 1974. As a Jurong Town Hall, it was the first permanent headquarters of JTC, which was then known as Jurong Town Corporation. It was a striking building, visible for miles around, with a distinctive clock tower. From this commanding location, Jurong Town Corporation planned and executed the development of our industrial estates, not just here in Jurong itself, but industrial estates all over the island. Today, Jurong Town Hall has been gazetted as a national monument, because of its historical significance in Singapore’s economic and industrial journey. For Roland, this must be particularly meaningful, because he is returning to the place where he had worked as a young civil engineer with JTC back in the 1970s.
While the building has retained its façade and character, its surroundings have changed significantly. I asked the architect just now, “what is new in this building?” He said, “no, no, the whole idea is, it must look old”. I think they have succeeded – old but improved. Jurong is no longer just an industrial estate, but a thriving HDB town. Now we are transforming Jurong again, with the High Speed Rail terminus and the plans for Jurong Lake District. In 15-20 years’ time, Jurong will become Singapore’s second commercial and business district. Locating the TA Hub here is therefore farsighted and appropriate.
Role of Trade Associations and Chambers
Trade Associations and Chambers, or TACs, are aggregators and multipliers in our business eco-system. You are close to the companies. You understand the needs of your industries well. You support SMEs to overcome the limitations of size by working together, and doing things that would otherwise be difficult for a single company to do alone. For example, the Singapore Motor Workshop Association (SMWA) plans to establish a one stop training academy in the upcoming JTC Automotive Hub for its members. This will professionalise auto repair workers and raise standards in the motor workshop industry. You are also a valued partner of the Government. An important channel through which the Government can engage businesses. A source of advice for businesses wishing to use the many Government support and assistance schemes available.
Therefore, the TACs are important players in our journey to upgrade our economy, grow our companies, and create better jobs for Singaporeans.
Trade Association Hub
The objective of this Trade Association Hub is to promote collaboration by bringing the TACs together under one roof. The TA Hub offers shared facilities and services to all TACs in Singapore at affordable rates. Here, they can hold activities like trade exhibitions, roadshows and skills upgrading programmes. But the TA Hub is not just a brick and mortar space. It will also help build a stronger TAC community, and cultivate a culture of mutual support and collaboration.
I would like to thank the SCCCI for promoting this initiative. The SCCCI first presented the proposal for the TA Hub in 2014 (three years ago), and since then it has been co-leading the project with JTC. The SCCCI itself has relocated its offices here to be the anchor tenant, and opened its doors to support other TACs. It has formed a Trade Association Committee to identify and tackle challenges faced by the TACs, and to help build up their capabilities. Smaller TACs have benefitted from SCCCI’s mentorship and training, to deliver greater value to its members. All TACs can tap on SCCCI’s shared secretariat services, and partner the Singapore Chinese Chamber Institute of Business and SCCCI’s SME Centre for their training and business advisory needs.
Through the TA Hub, I hope TACs will find more opportunities to work together even across different industries. Some TAC are already doing so. For example, the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) has signed an MOU with 8 other TACs, including Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA) and Landscape Industry Association, Singapore (LIAS), to learn from one another, and share technologies for converting waste into compost, and recycling by-products.
I also hope to see more TACs work together to help Singapore companies venture overseas, and expand their global footprint. It is challenging for smaller companies and TACs to do this on their own, but easier if they can work together and benefit from the experience of others. For example, the IE Singapore-SCCCI Singapore Enterprise Centre (ISSEC), is providing facilitation and business matching services to Singapore companies venturing into China. One company that ISSEC has supported is RedDot BrewHouse Pte Ltd. ISSEC gave RedDot BrewHouse general advice on how to navigate the business environment in Shanghai, and also practical help to obtain business and F&B licenses and connect to accounting and logistics service providers in China.
The Government will do more to help companies like RedDot BrewHouse upgrade, scale up and compete internationally. This is why we are merging SPRING and IE Singapore to form a new agency, Enterprise Singapore. We can then streamline the government initiatives and schemes, to provide simpler yet more comprehensive support to companies and TACs.
I would like to thank all those who have contributed to bringing this TA Hub to fruition, including the SCCCI, JTC, and SPRING. The Hub already houses 25 TACs, and there is room for more. I encourage all the Trade Associations who are thinking about relocating here to ‘chope’ your spot with Roland early.
I look forward to the TA Hub becoming a dynamic community, where TACs forge and deepen partnerships to seize new opportunities. And, just like the early industrialists, blaze the trail for the next phase of Singapore’s economic development.
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