"With strong foundations in infrastructure, talent, and innovation capabilities in Singapore, we continue to welcome investments in the chemicals space and break new ground in the industry."

Josephine Moh

VICE PRESIDENT AND HEAD, CHEMICALS & MATERIALS, SINGAPORE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD (EDB)

September 15, 2023

Can you provide an update on the Singapore Economic Development Board’s activities over the past year?

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) has seen continued growth in the energy and chemicals sectors, which continue to contribute about 20-30% of our manufacturing output in Singapore. We also continue to see good progress on the Sustainable Jurong Island Initiative, which lays out our visions and plans for transforming Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park. Significant investments have been made by companies such as Cariflex, which has started construction of their S$350 million polyisoprene latex plant, Arkema who continues to invest in its high-performance bio PA-11 project, IFF who is building a manufacturing plant and research and innovation center, and Baker Hughes who has expanded its presence in Asia by opening a new chemical manufacturing facility on Jurong Island in 2022 – the first big investment on Jurong Island since COVID-19.

Can you elaborate on the 2050 vision for Jurong Island?

The Jurong Island Sustainability narrative forms part of Singapore's broader sustainability and climate ambitions. Even though the country is naturally disadvantaged as we do not have direct access to renewable energy and alternative power sources, Singapore is extremely devoted to sustainability, and we have made commitments on an international front. In 2022, we raised our ambitions and set a target to reduce our carbon emissions to 60 million tons by 2030, achieve more than six million tons of carbon abatement per annum from low-carbon solutions by 2050, and reach net zero by 2050. To reach these targets, all sectors and industries will have to transform, including the chemical industry. At the same time, the chemical industry is also part of the solution towards sustainability, climate change, and the energy transition as the world will need chemicals and advanced materials for solar panels, electric vehicles, etc. We want the energy and chemicals industry to be sustainable and competitive, producing more sustainable products via sustainable pathways.

Can you speak to EDB’s plans to grow the specialty chemicals sector in Singapore?

We believe the country is in a unique position to take advantage of the opportunities in the specialty chemicals space, especially in the areas of Nutrition and Agriculture, Health and Hygiene, Sustainability, and Smart Materials and Mobility, where we believe there will be continued increasing demand. Significant innovation will be required in these areas, and Singapore has a unique role to play, particularly due to our strategic location near many markets in Southeast Asia and the broader Asia region. Our proximity to these markets is important for specialty chemicals which require significant application development. Chemical companies such as Evonik, IFF, and BASF have set up their research hubs in Singapore to capture such new opportunities, and we at EDB will continue our efforts to grow the sector.

What makes the country a great place for chemical and petrochemical companies to establish themselves?

Besides strong IP protection, research capabilities, and the country’s location, Singapore has an excellent talent pool. With innovation, you need multidisciplinary talent such as scientists and engineers, and we are open to bringing in people who have the necessary expertise and know-how. In addition, Singapore has excellent Research Institutes, such as A*STAR, as well as great capabilities within these institutes. A*STAR, like the EDB, reports to Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and adopts an industry-oriented approach to its research.

What are EDB’s main objectives and strategy for the next year?

EDB remains focused on achieving our targets for the Sustainable Jurong Island initiative, focusing on unlocking opportunities for sustainable products through sustainable pathways in manufacturing. At the same time, we are actively enabling innovation and have put together the Low-Carbon Energy Research Funding Initiative (LCER FI) where the government has awarded an initial S$55 million to support 12 research, development, and demonstration projects on low-carbon energy technology solutions. We have also set aside a further S$129 million to support more research in this area, as we recognize that many opportunities still need to be translated and commercialized. With these strong foundations in infrastructure, talent, and innovation capabilities in Singapore, we continue to welcome investments in the chemicals space and break new ground in the industry.

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