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New Launch Asia News Review / Issue 43

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Top News for the Week


Bishan may get 1,500 new BTO flats by 2025

More than 1,500 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats could be available by 2025 in Bishan, one of Singapore’s most sought after housing estates.

The Housing Board has called for a quotation for a traffic impact assessment (TIA) for a proposed public housing development in the area.

In documents seen by The Straits Times, HDB said that the proposed development will consist of six residential blocks from 22 to 39 storeys high.

They will have roof gardens and offer a total of 1,504 two-, three-and four-room units.

Proposed amenities include a childcare centre, a residents’ committee centre, a minimart, a coffee shop and other shops.

It is about 400m, or a five-minute walk, from Bishan MRT station.

Link to the story:



Vanuatu citizen pays S$32m for TwentyOne Angullia Park penthouse

A Vanuatu citizen, Xie Zhijing, is paying S$32 million or S$4,146 per sq ft for the remaining penthouse at the freehold TwentyOne Angullia Park.

This is 25 per cent lower than the S$42.9 million or S$5,560 psf that fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho – more commonly known as Jho Low – shelled out for the development’s other penthouse in 2013.

Both penthouses have identical sizes (a strata area of 7,718 sq ft inclusive of 624 sq ft of strata void area) and layout; they are in two different stacks which are mirror images.

Both penthouses were sold by the project’s developer, Angullia Development Pte Ltd.

Link to the story:



37 families to be affected as SLA reclaims state land in Katong

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has issued a notice to the 37 families living in the estate in Katong to move out by the end of December next year so that major restoration and repair works can be carried out on the houses.

Built in the 1950s, the cluster of 42 two-storey terraced homes off Haig Road – in Jalan Binjai, Jalan Gajus, Jalan Tembusu and Jalan Beringin – are state properties rented out by the Government to the highest bidder. They once served as government quarters.

SLA said residents who wished to renew their tenancies would be given one final tenancy ending in end-December next year.

An SLA spokesman said that upgrading works will commence in January 2021 and are expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Link to the story:



Residential site off Upper Serangoon on sale with $13.5m guide price

A residential development site situated off Upper Serangoon Road has been put up for sale via public tender at an indicative price of $13.5 million.

This works out to $850 per sq ft on a land area of around 15,871 sq ft.

The site is zoned for residential use with a plot ratio of 1.4, based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Draft Master Plan 2019.

The site, which is delta-shaped, is located at 62 Florence Road, and enjoys a dual road frontage of 55m along Florence Road and 45m along Lim Ah Pin Road. It is occupied by a vacant single- storey detached house that was built in the 1930s.

The tender will close on Dec 5 at 3pm.

Link to the story:



Sengkang Grand Residences units to start from S$798,000

Unit prices for Sengkang Grand Residences will start from S$798,000 for one-bedroom plus study units, said CapitaLand and City Developments (CDL).

The integrated development comprises 680 units across nine blocks, with unit sizes ranging from 474 square feet (sq ft) for a one-bedroom plus study, to 1,324 sq ft for a four-bedroom premium plus flexi unit type.

A two-bedroom unit will cost S$998,000, a three-bedroom unit will go for S$1.5 million, and a four-bedroom premium plus flexi unit for S$2.1 million.

Sengkang Grand Residences also features a retail mall, a community club, a hawker centre, a community plaza, a childcare centre and a bus interchange. The three-storey retail mall spans over 160,000 sq ft of gross floor area.

The 3.7 ha property is a joint venture between CapitaLand and CDL which clinched the 99-year leasehold site for S$777.78 million in August 2018. It is the largest commercial and residential site awarded since 2015.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/sengkang-grand-residences-units-to-start-from-s798000 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/company-briefs-capitaland-and-city-developments


HDB annual deficit grows to S$1.98b

The Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) deficit climbed to S$1.98 billion in the financial year ended March 31, largely on the back of a gross loss on the sale of flats, disbursement of Central Provident Fund (CPF) housing grants and the expected loss for flats that are currently under development.

In its annual report published, HDB said it recorded a deficit of S$2.4 billion from its housing programmes but this was offset by a S$462 million surplus from other activities such as rental and commercial businesses.

In its 2018/19 financial year, S$532 million in CPF grants were given to eligible buyers of resale flats and executive condominiums, compared with S$466 million the previous financial year.

On the upgrading front, the agency saw a deficit of S$577 million, down from S$639 million the previous financial year.

HDB also reported a 38 per cent decline in the number of flats sold, with sales of 16,608 units completed in the last financial year compared with 26,857 units sold the year before.

About 15,300 Build-To-Order flats across mature and non-mature towns were launched in the last financial year.

As of March 31, 81 per cent of Singapore’s population live in HDB flats, with about nine in 10 owning their units.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hdb-annual-deficit-grows-to-s198b https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/hdbs-deficit-grows-to-2b-mainly-from-housing-programmes


International Press Building up for sale with $30m guide price

International Press Building, an industrial property at 26 Kallang Avenue, has been launched for sale at an indicative price of $30 million.

The detached six-storey property occupies a total site area of about 54,000 sq ft. It has a gross floor area of 134,000 sq ft and a plot ratio of 2.5 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan 2019.

The property sits on JTC land that has a leasehold tenure of 60 years, effective from Feb 16, 1990, with a remaining lease of about 31 years.

The building in the city fringe is near MRT stations and other amenities.

Link to the story:



Kimly looks to buy stakes in coffee shops, canteens for S$59m

Catalist-listed coffee shop operator Kimly said that it plans to acquire interests in several coffee shops and industrial canteen units for a total of S$59 million, in a move that will expand the group’s footprint to 81 outlets.

Jin Wei Food Holdings, Kimly’s wholly-owned subsidiary, has signed a non-binding term sheet with a group of third party vendors to acquire their interests in a portfolio of coffee shop leases, coffee shop units and industrial canteen units.

In Kimly’s latest acquisition, the target properties comprise four long-term leasehold coffee shop units in mature HDB estates, three freehold industrial canteen units located in mature and populated industrial areas close to residential areas; and three short-term coffee shop leases, which are HDB direct leases.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/kimly-looks-to-buy-stakes-in-coffee-shops-canteens-for- s59m


Third launch for Katong Plaza collective sale

The collective sale for Katong Plaza has been launched for the third time via public tender at an unchanged asking price of S$188 million, marketing agent Huttons Asia said.

This translates to a land rate of S$1,947 per sq ft per plot ratio, after factoring an estimated development charge of S$10.8 million.

This is the second en bloc exercise for the mall, and third launch after obtaining an outline planning permission for hotel use on Sept 11 from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Huttons said that it is relaunching the site for tender having freshly obtained close to 90 per cent of owners agreeing to the collective sale, amid developers’ strong interest in land for hotel use.

The public tender will now close on Dec 19 at 2 pm.

Link to the story:



Paya Lebar Quarter officially launched

The $3.7 billion Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) development has officially opened.

The 4ha project, which comprises retail, office and residential components, is 30 per cent owned by Australian developer Lendlease, with Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund holding the rest.

Park Place Residences is the residential component. The condominium has 429 units of one-to three-bedroom apartments across three towers. Public amenities such as green spaces and walking paths take up about 100,000 sq ft.

PLQ Mall had its soft launch on Aug 30. It boasts about 200 shops across six floors, with anchor tenants such as FairPrice Finest, a Virgin Active gym and Shaw Theatres.

Three Grade A office towers make up PLQ Workplace, including a flexible workplace concept called csuites. This caters to enterprises that want co-working spaces and employ smaller teams. About 90 per cent of available office and retail space has been leased or is under final negotiation.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/paya-lebar-quarter-officially-launched https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/lendleases-s37-billion-mixed-used-paya-lebar-quarter-officially- launched


Singapore malls roll out experiential attractions to draw customers

With the disruption posed by e-commerce, retail malls in Singapore are rapidly evolving beyond mere sales to introduce experiential- and activity-based concepts to entice returning customers.

While Singapore’s GDP (gross domestic product) and household incomes have steadily recovered since the 2009 global financial crisis, rising at a compounded annual growth rate of over 4 per cent, retail and F&B (food and beverage) growth has not kept pace, with annual growth barely reaching 2 per cent over the same period, the report noted. As such, to boost footfall, maintain high occupancy rates and shore up earnings, malls are adding communal spaces and non-retail components into their mix, with the aim of creating communities within their premises.

Increasingly, malls are also featuring focal points – which may not even be retail in nature – around which people can gather, the report highlighted. For instance, Funan Mall which reopened in June this year, offers a rooftop Urban Farm, rock-climbing facilities, and an indoor cycling track among other flagship brands.

It added that Jewel Changi Airport’s iconic rain vortex – the world’s tallest indoor waterfall – attracts huge crowds seeking “instagrammable moments”, while its canopy park and hedge maze are attractions designed to encourage consumers to return to the mall.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-malls-roll-out-experiential-attractions-to-draw-customers https://www.straitstimes.com/business/malls-turning-to-experiences-activities-to-woo-back-customers-report


Singapore, US ink pact on infrastructure finance and market building

Singapore and the United States have inked a pact to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure finance and market building.

The agreement was signed in Washington by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education Indranee Rajah and US Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich.

It took place on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting and annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

A Ministry of Finance (MOF) statement said the agreement builds on the broader cooperation between the two countries to facilitate technical exchanges and information sharing, support infrastructure development in South-east Asia and promote private sector investments. The measures may include crowding in institutional investors, such as pension funds and insurance companies, and developing regional debt markets for infrastructure financing.

The new pact will be implemented by agencies such as the MOF, Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Link to the story:



Khaw Boon Wan outlines Singapore’s stance on adopting new tech in transport, country won’t rush into it

Singapore will not rush to be the first in adopting “new-fangled technologies” for essential services like public transport, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The country’s approach, he said, is to explore a wide range of technology platforms before selecting a few promising solutions, based on “hard-headed calculations”.

Speaking at the opening of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Khaw said: “What is crucial is that we are plugged in, and are fully aware of what new technologies are available out there.”

By taking part in developing such new technologies through joint research, pilots and trials, Singapore can better assess the state of their maturity, he added. “This allows us to better judge the timing for adoption, and to scale up wisely.”

An intelligent transport system must also be a wise one, he said in an opening speech to participants from over 80 countries in the first ITS congress hosted by Singapore.

Link to the story:



Singapore to stay nimble in its global strategy by keeping digital trade open: Iswaran

Singapore is working actively with like-minded trade partners to put in place clear and harmonised rules as well as mechanisms for collaboration to promote digital trade and keep the cross-border flow of bits and bytes free of interference.

That’s the next step trade-dependent Singapore is taking to stay nimble in its international trade strategy, said Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran.

Declaring that digital is the future, Mr Iswaran, who is also the Minister for Communications and Information, noted that digital trade is growing exponentially. Citing a McKinsey study, he said the amount of data crossing borders in 2017 is 148 times bigger than in 2005.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-to-stay-nimble-in-its-global-strategy-by- keeping-digital-trade-open


Self-driving vehicles to be tested on roads in all of western Singapore

The whole of western Singapore will be designated a testbed for autonomous vehicles (AVs), in a move to speed up the development of the technology. The expanded testbed, which includes such areas as Bukit Timah, Clementi and Jurong, will open up more than 1,000km of public roads for companies to conduct tests.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the decision was in response to industry feedback for a more varied testing environment. It gives companies the chance “to progressively conduct on-road testing in a wider range of traffic scenarios and road conditions”.

LTA added: “This will support the robust testing of AVs’ capabilities to provide inter-town services and longer-haul journeys in a safe manner, and pave the way for the planned pilot deployment of AVs in the early 2020s.” The government in 2017 identified Punggol, Tengah and the Jurong

Innovation District as areas where residents and workers can take pilot self-driving buses and shuttles for their first-and last-mile commutes.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/self-driving-vehicles-to-be-tested-on-roads-in-all-of-western-singapore-        0

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/western-spore-set-to-become-test-bed-for-self-driving-vehicles https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/expanded-test-bed-a-big-boost-for-research-developers


In about 4 yrs: Retail payments across Asean via mobile numbers

Over the next four years or so, Singapore will work with other Asean countries to link up their real-time payment systems to enable small retail payments using just mobile numbers, with the link-up between Singapore and Thailand expected to be completed by the middle of next year, said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) chief Ravi Menon.

But with large cross-border business payments still cumbersome and costly, a new form of cryptocurrency known as stablecoins, as popularised by Facebook’s Libra, is a “competing potential solution”, said Mr Menon.

To be sure, while Mr Menon said Singapore will take an open mind towards stablecoins – cryptocurrencies that are pegged to a basket of fiat currencies, securities, or commodities, so as to reduce the price volatility of these cryptocurrencies – the regulators here are also concerned by the destabilising risks posed by these new inventions.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/in-about-4-yrs-retail-payments-across-asean-via-mobile- numbers


Consumers to be able to aggregate and share financial data next year

Singapore expects to announce next year the details of a single platform for consumers to aggregate their financial information from various accounts across banks, insurance companies and brokerages, said Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Such a platform, as reported by The Business Times in February, will allow consumers to consent to sharing their consolidated financial data with traditional financial institutions, as well as with non-banking entities such as fintechs.

In time, it could also make it simpler for consumers to compare products and services for better financial planning, and – if they wish to – to easily switch between competing offers.

This liberalisation, a concept called “Open Banking” in Europe, comes amid a recognition that Singapore consumers need a seamless, consolidated view of their assets and liabilities so they can plan for their sunset years. (Singaporeans now have the world’s longest life expectancy at 84.8 years.)

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/consumers-to-be-able-to-aggregate-and-share-financial-data- next-year


IMF cuts Singapore 2019 growth forecast to 0.5%

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its growth projection for Singapore to 0.5 per cent in 2019, down from an earlier estimate of 2 per cent in July, due to strong export headwinds and the downturn in the electronics cycle.

The IMF’s projection is in line with the Singapore government’s growth forecast for 2019, which the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in August is likely to come in between zero growth and 1 per cent.

Overall, the IMF lowered its growth projection for Asia to 5 per cent for 2019 and 5.1 per cent for 2020, about 0.4 percentage points lower than its projections in April, as growth softened in the first half of 2019 due to declining fixed investments and exports.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/imf-cuts-singapore-2019-growth-forecast-to-05 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/imf-cuts-spore-growth-forecast-to-05-for-2019 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/imf-cuts-growth-forecasts-for-asian-economies


Core inflation at lowest in over three years

Cheaper electricity and gas and lower retail prices helped inflation fall to its lowest in over three years in September, according to data.

Core inflation eased to 0.7 per cent, the lowest since March 2016, when it came in at 0.6 per cent. It was also slightly down from August’s 0.8 per cent. Core inflation excludes the costs of accommodation and private road transport.

Headline or overall inflation last month remained the same at 0.5 per cent as accommodation costs fell by a smaller amount, while private road transport inflation slowed.

The figures were in line with predictions made by analysts in a Bloomberg poll, who flagged headline inflation at 0.5 per cent and core inflation at 0.8 per cent, the same as the inflation rates in August.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/core-inflation-at-lowest-in-over-three-years https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/singapore-core-inflation-touches-fresh-low-in-september


S’poreans see inflation rate of 3.2% in next 12 months: Poll

Singaporeans believe overall or headline inflation will rise slightly to 3.2 per cent over the next 12 months, according to the results of a September poll.

This is up from the 2.9 per cent rate predicted in a poll done in the previous quarter.

Both polls were conducted under the Singapore Index of Inflation Expectations by Singapore Management University (SMU) and DBS Group Research.

Meanwhile, respondents in the latest poll expected core inflation – price hikes excluding housing and private road transport – to come in at 3.3 per cent for the year ahead, up from 3.1 per cent forecast in the June poll.

The September poll showed that inflation expectations across all categories have either stayed the same or inched up quarter on quarter.

Link to the story:



Singapore still No. 2 in ease of doing business: Report

Singapore has retained its place as second best on a World Bank ranking for the ease of doing business amid a period fraught with trade tensions.

China and India made the top-10 list of governments that have done the most in the past year to improve the ease of doing business in their countries, the World Bank said.

Hong Kong moved up a notch to third place, trading places with Denmark, while South Korea stayed in fifth. The US moved up two spots to No. 6, knocking Georgia back to seventh, while Britain, Norway and Sweden rounded out the top 10.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/singapore-still-no-2-in-ease-of-doing-business-report https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-keeps-2nd-place-for-ease-of-doing-business- world-bank-0


Singapore keeps top spot in Asia for IP rights protection

Singapore is tops in Asia again in the strength of the protection it offers for intellectual property (IP) rights.

It has been top in Asia since at least the 2015 edition of the annual International Property Rights Index (IPRI).

Globally, in a field of 129 countries, the Republic has moved up a notch to fourth, losing out only to IP powerhouses such as Finland (first), Switzerland (second) and New Zealand (third).

This year’s IPRI, has ranked Australia and Japan fifth and sixth respectively; the US moved up two spots to 12th, and the UK slipped down two to 15th.

Developed by US-based Property Rights Alliance, the index serves as a barometer for the strength of protection across physical and intellectual property.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-keeps-top-spot-in-asia-for-ip-rights-protection https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/singapore-keeps-top-spot-in-asia-for-ip-protection


Singapore retains 21st spot in global soft power ranking

Singapore has emerged 21st among 30 nations in a global ranking on soft power, which measures countries on their ability to use persuasion and attraction to influence others in international relations.

The Republic, however, came out tops in one of the study’s six subindexes called “enterprise”, which looks at the attractiveness of a country’s business model, its capacity for innovation and its regulatory framework.

It ranked eighth in the “digital” category for its robust digital infrastructure and advanced digital government services, according to The Soft Power 30 report released today. The annual ranking,

which started in 2015, is produced by strategic communications consultancy Portland, in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy.

The year’s study assesses 30 countries around the world using metrics in six categories – culture, digital, education, enterprise, engagement and government, along with an international poll of 12,500 people across 25 countries.

Link to the story:



Singapore has wealth of new opportunities to exploit: Chan Chun Sing

Singapore has a wealth of new opportunities to explore and exploit, including more efficiently farmed food, petrochemical products with a lower carbon footprint and ecotourism, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

He told The Sunday Times in a wide-ranging interview that there are emerging trends that play to many of the country’s strengths.

One is that the demand for quality healthcare and food will continue to rise given a growing Asian market and middle class. The Sungei Kadut area, which will house the upcoming Agri-Food Innovation Park, will form a new ecosystem for this.

The trend of environmental consciousness also presents opportunities for Singapore in the areas of petrochemicals and ecotourism. Mr Chan said the petrochemical industry here is already among the “cleanest”, so developing products using a much lower carbon footprint would allow Singapore to export its processes as well as its products.

He pointed to Dyson’s move to cancel plans to manufacture electric vehicles, which included a car plant here, and noted that continuing investments in other areas here remains important for energy applications. “If water was the story for the last 50 years, energy is the story for the next 50 years,” he said.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-has-wealth-of-new-opportunities-to-exploit-chan https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/food-security-just-one-part-of-spores-diversification-strategy


Singapore cloud market to reach US$3.6b by 2023, says report

Singapore’s public cloud computing market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion by 2023, representing a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 20 per cent, according to a Google Cloud study conducted with Boston Consulting Group.

In a baseline scenario in the report, cumulative impact from public cloud use on Singapore’s gross domestic product could be US$31 billion across 2019 to 2023. Annualised, this would be equivalent to about 1.7 per cent of GDP, said the report.

This is assuming that cloud service providers continue to launch new products and services; deployment continues to expand rapidly; and policymakers keep their existing stance on public cloud deployment.

Link to the story:



Singaporeans’ education, wages, health have improved over the generations: MOF report

Compared to earlier cohorts, Singaporeans in their 40s today are better educated, more able to find jobs and earn more, and live longer.

But they also have less family support, as fewer of them are married and families are smaller, published by a report from the Ministry of Finance.

And while home ownership has risen over time, it showed a slight dip for the generation in their 40s, compared with those who are in their 50s and 60s.

The study, which draws on previously unpublished data from the Department of Statistics and the Manpower and Health Ministries, tracks the socio-economic outcomes of four generations of Singapore citizens born from 1940 to 1979.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singaporeans-education-wages-health-have-improved- over-the-generations-mof-report



Singapore Q3 unemployment hits 10-year high

Overall unemployment in Singapore crept up in the third quarter of this year to the highest level since 2009, as more workers were retrenched. At the same time, employment growth shot up to the highest level since 2014.

This was the mixed picture painted by the latest preliminary figures on jobs released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM).

The overall seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate crept up to 2.3 per cent in September, up from

2.2 per cent in June. The last time the rate was 2.3 per cent was in December 2009.

The rate for Singaporeans rose to 3.3 per cent from 3.2 per cent, while the rate for citizens and permanent residents combined rose to 3.2 per cent from 3.1 per cent.

Retrenchments rose to 2,900 last quarter, up from 2,320 in the preceding quarter and 2,860 a year ago. Services continued to form the bulk of retrenchments.

However, total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, rose by 22,400 from July to September. This is more than three times the growth of 6,200 in the previous quarter, and higher than the growth of 16,700 a year earlier.

This was largely due to 16,100 more people finding work in the services sector, said MOM.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-q3-unemployment-hits-10-year-high https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/mixed-job-report-in-third-quarter https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/labour-figures-in-q3-paint-a-mixed-picture


Singapore economy could turn around next year: MAS chief

Singapore’s economy may be a few quarters away from a recovery as the decline in trade and manufacturing this year has not really spread to other sectors, said the head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

MAS’ baseline view is that the current cycle should be bottoming out towards the end of the year and into next year, its managing director Ravi Menon said in an interview with Bloomberg.

That is based on the assumption that the slump will be largely contained in the trade and manufacturing industries, he said.

Singapore’s export-reliant economy has seen a sharper downturn in the second half of this year amid ongoing tensions between the United States and China, two of its biggest trading partners. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last week that the city state would be “lucky” to achieve positive growth for the year.

Link to the story:



Singapore beating fresh path to the world of e-commerce

At a time when traditional trade relations come under strain, Singapore’s move to build data corridors with other small, open economies for greater digital connectivity is the new frontier in global liberalisation, Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has said.

“This is going to be the way of the future,” he told The Business Times in a recent interview. “If most of the commerce and economic activity is going to be conducted on digital platforms, that is where the next stage of liberalisation needs to take place.”

Countries, including Singapore, are now focusing on enhancing data connectivity to seize opportunities in the burgeoning digital economy – and its very potential is cutting through the dark clouds looming over Singapore’s current trade malaise, he said.

Singapore’s Internet economy has been expanding at an average rate of 17 per cent a year since 2015; this year, it will have an estimated value of about US$12 billion.

The same goes for the rest of the region: South-east Asia’s Internet economy – encompassing sectors such as e-commerce, ride-hailing and digital payments – grew more than threefold from US$32 billion in 2015 to US$100 billion this year.

The trajectory is still on the up – it is expected to accelerate to US$300 billion by 2025.

Link to the story:



Rents, prices of industrial space hold steady in Q3: JTC

Rents and prices of industrial space in Singapore remained stable in the third quarter of this year compared with the previous three months, according to the latest data from industrial land and infrastructure agency JTC Corp.

The price index was up 0.1 per cent quarter on quarter, while the rental index was flat. Compared with a year ago, the price index edged down 0.1 per cent while the rental index inched up 0.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, the occupancy rate of the overall industrial property market at 89.3 per cent was unchanged over the previous quarter, but up 0.2 percentage point from a year ago.

For industrialists looking to own production spaces, there were about 200 units in uncompleted developments available for sale at the end of Q3 2019. These units totalled about 120,000 sq m of space.

For the rest of 2019, another 340,000 sq m of industrial space is estimated to come on-stream, while the figure for 2020 is estimated at 1.9 million sq m. In comparison, the average annual supply and demand of industrial space in the past three years was around 1.3 million and 1.2 million sq m respectively.

JTC also said that based on the number of caveats lodged for industrial properties, transaction volumes in Q3 2019 declined by 20 per cent compared to the prior quarter but was up 2 per cent from a year ago.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/industrial-market-posts-stable-q3-despite-external-headwinds-but- outlook-cloudy



Heng calls for more industry-higher education tie-ups

Tie-ups between industry and higher education will help research and development (R&D) investments turn into “more good jobs” in Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said, at the official launch.

Chipmaker GlobalFoundries, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) jointly pledged S$120 million – in cash and kind – for a four-year project that aims to commercialise a new type of data-storage technology using 12-inch wafers.

It is NTU’s largest corporate research deal by dollar value so far, with an undisclosed portion of the funding coming out of the national S$19 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 master plan.

At a ceremony to cement the year-old collaboration, Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance and chairman of the NRF, urged more “meaningful partnerships with academia” across the industry landscape.

Link to the story:



JTC, Delta Electronics set up training centre to drive Industry 4.0

JTC Corporation is collaborating with Taiwanese power-component maker Delta Electronics to drive the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology.

Under this tie-up, Delta Electronics International (Singapore) will set up a solutions and training centre to support JTC customers, upskill small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) partners, and offer automation solutions to tackle issues in the local manufacturing sector.

The partnership was unveiled with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two sides.

The new centre is part of the JTC-Delta Industry Transformation Initiative, and aims to foster the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology to optimise manufacturing through smart, autonomous systems.

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Siemens and Bosch among firms to set up at upcoming Jurong hub

The new hub for advanced manufacturing being built in Jurong West is welcoming six new entrants over the next three years, ranging from industry giants to research institutions.

They include German conglomerate Siemens, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said. It is setting up a centre to showcase digital solutions and help lower the barrier to entry for manufacturers who want to adopt 3D printing technologies.

Engineering firm Bosch Rexroth will be opening a regional training centre to develop a pipeline of Industry 4.0 specialists, he added.

The other four entrants are: American multinational Flowserve, Singapore-listed motion control systems specialist ISDN, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*Star) Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology as well as the National Metrology Centre.

This brings the Jurong Innovation District (JID), as the area is called, a step closer to changing how companies collaborate and innovate by housing various nodes of the manufacturing sector on a single campus. The first phase of the 600ha JID is expected to be completed around 2022.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/siemens-and-bosch-among-firms-to-set-up-at-upcoming- jurong-hub


Semiconductor, pharma lead in Industry 4.0 readiness: EDB study

Within Singapore’s manufacturing sector, semiconductor and pharmaceutical firms lead the way in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, according to a Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) study.

In sharing this report, the aim is to “kickstart the sharing of best practices and industry-level insights”, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said at Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP), where the Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) Manufacturing Transformation Insights Report 2019 was released.

SIRI was introduced in November 2017, with the EDB saying in March 2018 that it would fund SIRI assessments for 300 firms. The report is based on 200 funded assessments across 12 manufacturing industries.

The pharmaceuticals sector was found to have a high and uniform level of maturity, along with the medical technology and electronics sectors. While the semiconductor industry also ranked high on maturity, the pace of transformation within the sector was more varied. Ranking lowest were industries such as general manufacturing, marine and offshore engineering, and food and beverage.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/semiconductor-pharma-lead-in-industry-40-readiness-edb- study

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/semiconductor-pharma-sectors-ahead-in-industry-40- adoption

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/s38m-initiative-for-hyper-personalised-manufacturing- among-new-industry-40-moves


YCH in tie-up to expand drone use in warehouses

Home-grown logistics company YCH Group has joined hands with unmanned aerial vehicle firm AeroLion Technologies to expand the use of drones in warehouses in the region.

The firms unveiled their partnership at the three-day Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific trade show, adding that they will collaborate further to research and develop commercially ready technology.

While YCH already uses AeroLion’s drones at its distribution centre in the Jurong Innovation District, the firms are working together to extend this solution to other regional warehouses and other warehouse service providers.

Typically, a two-man team takes a full day to check the inventory of a single warehouse aisle, but such drones can complete the same task in 12 minutes, said YCH and AeroLion.

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honestbee eyes co-working play, beefs up management team

Honestbee may be in the thick of rebuilding its fallen house, but it is also eyeing a real estate play. The startup plans to sub-lease about half of its Delta House office space for co-working, pending approval from its landlord.

In a recent interview with The Business Times, honestbee chief executive Ong Lay Ann said that the co-working space, called b. at Delta, would be able to seat up to 100 tenants. It would comprise hot desks, dedicated desks and a private office. The target market is other startups.

It is still early days, with the startup ironing out pricing plans. An honestbee spokesman declined to comment on whether its existing lease allows sub-leasing, and what the remaining tenure of the lease and exact floor area are, citing confidential agreements.

honestbee is now restructuring over US$209 million worth of debt, plans to keep its Delta House office for the long haul, which is why it is prepared to sub-lease the space.

BT understands from previous filings that honestbee spends about S$125,000 in rentals monthly. Its leased properties include its office space as well as its habitat supermarket at Boon Leat Terrace.

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Two Kampong Glam shophouses being sold

Two conservation shophouses in historic Kampong Glam are changing hands for a total of S$29 million.

A South Korean party is paying S$18.8 million for 11 Bali Lane, where the Blu Jaz Cafe operates, and S$10.2 million for 241 Beach Road, which houses Piedra Negra Mexican Bar and Restaurant.

Both F&B outlets are operated by the Blu Jaz group, which has leased the two properties from the seller, an Indonesia citizen-turned-Singaporean involved in a range of businesses, including investing in shophouses.

Both shophouses are on 999-year leasehold sites. The Bali Lane property has three levels with a total built-up area of around 4,680 sq ft, say sources. The price translates to slightly over S$4,000 psf.

The price for the Beach Road shophouse works out to S$3,200 psf on built-up area. It has a triple frontage, with bold murals adorning the walls on each side of the longish shophouse. It spans two floors and a mezzanine level.

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Changi Airport to break passenger records in 2019 thanks to Jewel: PM Lee

An all-time high of 65.6 million travellers passed through Changi Airport in 2018, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is “confident” that the record will be broken again this year because of the new Jewel Changi Airport complex.

“Jewel has undoubtedly made Changi Airport more competitive,” he said at the official opening of the S$1.7 billion development.

The grand ceremony was attended by over 500 guests, including the chairmen of Jewel’s two shareholders – Liew Mun Leong of Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Ng Kee Choe of CapitaLand

– as well as Jewel’s chairman Lee Seow Hiang and its chief executive officer Hung Jean.

Jewel – a 135,700 sq m retail and entertainment complex built on the site of the former Terminal 1 open-air car park – welcomed its first guests in mid-April this year, after a six-day preview that saw more than 500,000 Singapore residents throng the 10-storey development.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/changi-airport-to-break-passenger-records-in-2019-thanks-to-jewel-pm-      lee

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/changi-airport-to-break-passenger-records-in-2019-thanks-to-jewel-pm-      lee


Entrepreneur’s out-of-the-box idea for shipping-container hotel in Singapore

Repurposed shipping containers could make for unusual hotels in surprising locations, say, on Coney Island, or the Marina Barrage overlooking the National Day Parade fireworks.

Depending on how his first two container hotels do at one-north in December, entrepreneur Seah Liang Chiang dreams of having 50 spread across 20 locations islandwide, and eventually popping up in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The concept is to set up two to five containers in far-flung places in Singapore where there are no permanent built hotels, for about two to three years, and then move on to another destination.

Though called a hotel, the container is more like a cabin because there are no facilities such as swimming pools, room service or daily housekeeping.

At 280 sq ft, each is slightly smaller than two carpark spaces, and can sleep up to four people. A night in a container at one-north will cost about $150 to $200.

The containers are equipped with a toilet, kitchen and dining area, TV, sofa, and a bedroom with a queen-size bed.

The total cost of repurposing each container and connecting it to plumbing and electricity is around

$70,000 to $110,000.

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China’s home price growth steady, fewer cities post gains

New home prices in China grew at a steady pace in September, with fewer cities reporting price gains, a relief for policymakers who remain wary of high debt and bubble risk and are refraining from stimulating the sector as the economy cools.

The property sector has held up as one of the few bright spots in the world’s second-largest economy with other parts hit as factories struggle to land new orders from abroad amid Beijing’s bruising trade war with the US.

Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.5 per cent in September from August, when it also grew at the same pace – the slowest since February, Reuters calculated based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data.

Home prices in September rose 8.4 per cent from a year earlier, slowing from an 8.8 per cent gain in August, and the slowest since September last year.

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Australia home prices keep rising as auctions heat up

Australian house prices are heading for their strongest month of gains since mid-2017 as record low interest rates and looser lending rules stoke auction demand in Sydney and Melbourne.

The recovery is welcome news for the economy after a two-year downturn ate away at household wealth and confidence, undermining consumption and business earnings.

A sustained revival in prices could also prove a saviour for the construction sector which has seen a severe downturn in new home approvals, particularly for the once red-hot apartment sector.

The data showed home prices across the capital cities rose 0.4 per cent last week, from the previous week, and 1.2 per cent in the month to Oct 20.

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US existing home sales drop more than expected in Sept

US home sales fell more than expected in September as the market continues to struggle with a dearth of properties for sale, especially for cheaper homes.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that existing home sales fell 2.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million units last month, reversing two straight months of gains. August’s sales pace was upwardly revised to 5.5 million units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales declining 0.7 per cent to 5.45 million units.

The US Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates twice this year, which has bolstered the housing market by lowering mortgage rates. Investors expect another interest rate cut when policymakers meet next week.

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Parking space in Hong Kong sold for $1.3m

If anyone needed further evidence of Hong Kong’s sky-high real estate prices, they found it this week with news that a car parking space sold for more than HK$7.5 million (S$1.3 million).

The space went for HK$7.6 million, making it the most expensive place to park a car in the city, and perhaps anywhere in the world.

For the cost of the parking space, you could buy a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

The jaw-dropping price is also another illustration of the gap in Hong Kong between the ultra-rich and ordinary people.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hk-businessman-pays-hk76m-for-parking-space https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/parking-space-in-hong-kong-sold-for-13m





Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

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