Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Welcome Address CommunicAsia 2001/Broadcast Asia Opening, Singapore Expo

Lam Chuan Leong, Chairman, IDA Singapore - Welcome Address
CommunicAsia 2001/Broadcast Asia Opening, Singapore Expo

Singapore, 19 June 2001

Good morning Deputy Prime Minister, BG Lee Hsien Loong,
Mr Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for the Environment and Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last June, when we had CommunicAsia 2000 here, the NASDAQ stood at 3,813.38 Source: ABIX - Australasian Business Intelligence, as reported in Reuters Business Briefings, June 2000. Now it is some 45% lower. The economic climate has changed dramatically. Many experts and non-experts have been gazing into the crystal ball to foretell what is in store for us. Perhaps they will not find a sure answer or perhaps no definitive answer is ever possible.

Nevertheless, if the history of economic cycles in the post-industrial age is any guide, given a sufficiently longer term view, the economy on the whole has always come out better after each wave of ups and downs.

In fact, analysts have been quite optimistic on the outlook of infocomm industry in Asia. For instance, in an IDC report last year, internet access subscribers in Asia Pacific were expected to increase from 27 million in 2000 to 82 million by 2004 Source: IDC December 2000 - Asia/Pacific Internet Access and Value-added Services Market Forecast and Analysis 1999-2004. Excludes Japan.. Mobile or wireless internet users in Asia Pacific is projected to grow from 4 million in 2000 to 140 million by 2004 Source: IDC January 2001. Excludes Japan, include HK, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, PRC, Taiwan, Australia, NZ, Thailand, Philippines, India and Indonesia.. M-commerce revenue is forecast to expand from US$2.6 million in 2000 to US$9.6 billion by 2004 Source: IDC January 2001.

Given the track record of technology forecasts lately, these figures may have to be taken with some caution. However, the underlying growth trend is unmistakable. Some observers are even of the view that the mobile revolution will be led by Asia. One good example is that of Japan's NTT Docomo, which is expected to be the first in the world to roll out 3G services.

At a recent conference in Shanghai, the key buzzword was "Informatization". There is a palpable drive and ambition to make "informatization" the basis of economic progress in China.

The Executive Deputy Mayor of Shanghai told the Singapore delegation that Shanghai wants to be an internationally competitive city, and a global hub alongside the likes of Hongkong and Singapore.

Therein lie both the threat and the opportunity. With this vigorous competitive outlook, with China's expected entry into the WTO, and with the global nature of the infocomm industry, China will necessarily compete in the same space as other Asian countries like Singapore.

However, for small countries like Singapore, there will be niches where our size gives us the nimbleness to add value. It is up to us to search for such niches. And this is what CommunicAsia is about: the chance to network and search for opportunities. It should be an exciting and fruitful search given that more than two thousand companies around the world will showcase their products and services to an expected crowd of 50,000 over the next four days.

On that note, I should like to congratulate the organiser, Singapore Exhibition Services, for yet another successful showing and to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors for a fruitful and enjoyable stay in Singapore.

Thank you.