Thursday, February 17, 2011

S'pore building up its financial hub

SINGAPORE will work towards strengthening its position as a financial hub by boosting its capabilities in a range of areas, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang yesterday.


He noted that while Asia is not immune to risk from external shocks, especially from the developed world, its growth and potential over the next decade are attracting global interest.


Singapore's opportunity is that it can serve as the ideal platform for investors to tap on a fast-rising Asia, he told a Citigroup investor forum yesterday at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.


To do that, Mr Lim said Singapore will continue to build on its traditional strength in trading and financing.


'We will also continue to emphasise the importance of strengthening risk management, enhancing transparency, as well as build depth and diversity in the offering of financial products and services,' he said.


Mr Lim said risk management has become increasingly important in the wake of the financial crisis and, in response, Singapore has been building the infrastructure to help market players better manage risks.


For instance, the country has become a key risk management hub for commodities trading and accounts for more than half of Asia's over-the-counter commodity derivatives trading.


Singapore is also working hard to raise the level of corporate governance, he said. He noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has been promoting improvements in the disclosure and quality of information available to investors, such as making real estate investment trusts (Reits) hold annual general meetings (AGMs).


'These mandatory AGMs provide an important channel for communication between Reit managers and investors. This will also increase transparency and raise the accountability of Reit managers to investors,' he said.


Increasing the diversity of products offered is another area being addressed.


Last year, the Singapore Commodity Exchange launched a coffee futures contract product while the recently launched Singapore Mercantile Exchange provides an avenue for commodity trading.


'Singapore plays a key role as a gateway to Asia, facilitating capital and investment flows,' Mr Lim said.


'As a regional financial hub, the developments in Singapore's capital markets reflect the growing vibrancy, diversity and sophistication of Asia's capital markets.'

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