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IASG's analysts: Experts Weigh in on Singapore's Immigration Trends as Phase 3 Looms

IASG's analysts: Experts Weigh in on Singapore's Immigration Trends as Phase 3 Looms

SINGAPORE, Dec. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Analysts at Immigration@SG LLP (IASG) have been keeping a close eye on the impact of COVID-19 on Singapore immigration since its onset, to predict the migration patterns that will follow. Concern over the immigration situation has been at an all-time high, with both the Singaporean population as well as foreign talent having their own set of worries. This investigation conducted followed the migration patterns of Singapore in 2019, where it clocked in the lowest economic growth since the 2008 Financial Crisis; the implications of holding GE2020 during the pandemic; a study conducted by the International Organization for Migration; the sanctions and tariffs imposed on businesses as a result of the intensifying trade situation, and the immigration trends of global conglomerates into Singapore.

From the data compiled through the research, five key patterns have been emerging and cannot be ignored:

  1. Singapore remains an extremely attractive location for foreign businesses;
  2. Singapore is still investing into future industries to drive its economic recovery;
  3. Singapore needs skilled foreign talent to drive these industries and train the local workforce;
  4. Local jobs are not at risk of being passed over to the foreign population, and,
  5. There is no pressing need for Singapore to reduce its quotas for Permanent Residency and Citizenship application approvals.

"At this current stage, many consider the main issue surrounding immigration into Singapore to be purely economically driven. This is a gross misunderstanding of the situation. The key problem is global mobility – or the lack thereof," comments the Director of IASG. 

The economic calamity brought about by COVID-19 has been largely due to the lack of easy access across borders, which is forcing the world to reinvent the global economy that is inherently reliant on the geographical mobility model to thrive. As a trickledown effect of restricted access across borders and a contracting economy, we see a climbing unemployment rate, which brings about the concern of the local population with regards to their employment security and a perceived competition for jobs with the foreign population.

A climbing unemployment rate is dangerous. It will bring about a negative multiplier effect that can get the economy stuck in a cyclical recession. In order to recover, the Singapore economy needs to protect its economic competitiveness. It has been doing so by investing in developing and driving future industries onshore and remaining neutral in the trade war between our global superpowers.

This makes it an attractive locus for businesses to set-up their regional headquarters, as seen by EatJust establishing a plant protein production facility in Singapore, Tencent and  ByteDance (Tiktok's owner) establishing their presence here as a springboard to access the rest of the world easily, the development of the Jurong Innovation District for mega companies to establish their future-focused plants, like the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre, the set-up of the Singapore Green Finance Centre (SGFC), and the continued support and investment of Apple, Google and DB Schenker into the country during this time.

Singapore needs to remain open to recover and maintain its economic competitiveness. From 28 December 2020 onwards, we will see more foreign businesses moving onshore, as the country opens up more in Phase 3, and works toward re-establishing international travel. Jobs in key sectors will also increase - Singapore's ongoing 22 bilateral agreements and regional Free Trade Agreements, also indicates that a level of openness and talent exchange is assured. The recent signing of the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) allow for the progression of the digital trade and the platform economy, showing Singapore's commitment to key future industries.

As Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chung Sing said: "This is not the time to take a wrecking ball to the pacts Singapore has signed. The network of FTAs is greater than the sum of its parts because no investor in Singapore plans to serve only one external market - the more FTAs Singapore has, the more competitive it is in attracting investments and creating jobs."

Singapore has little need to stray from its 2013 White Paper roadmap for the foreign population. Quotas for Permanent Residents and Citizenship Applicants will not change, and Work Passes will still be available. This is supported by PM Lee: "Our population is small, it is not growing very fast. Soon it is going to level off. To grow our economy, we have no choice but to top up with foreign workers and work pass holders."

A small change will be observed in the barriers to entry into Singapore for the foreign population through the tightening of its existing selective immigration policies. Short Term Visit Passes (STVP) will slowly cease, as border restrictions lift. This makes it crucial for foreigners who wish to remain in Singapore long-term to investigate avenues through which they can secure a more permanent place within the country. Ultimately, as Phase 3 begins, expecting the country to slowly reattain its level of openness from pre-COVID-19, with a renewed commitment to driving the development of future industries onshore. Individuals and businesses who wish to secure their future or wish to find out how they place within this new normal of a Post-Phase 3 Singapore may call the hotline at +65 6493 1830 or drop an inquiry at enquiry@iasg.com.sg as to arrange for a complimentary private discussion and/or consultation.

About Immigration@SG LLP (IASG):

IASG is a multiple award-winning, Singapore-based immigration consultancy firm providing comprehensive immigration services to cater to the varying needs of individuals and businesses. Our in-depth knowledge of Singapore immigration laws and policies, as well as extensive experience handling a plethora of unique and complex immigration cases allow IASG to offer sound and strategic immigration advice with full compliance to the local laws and regulations. Our services extend to include a myriad of immigration needs, including Singapore Permanent Residence Applications; Singapore Citizenship Applications; Work Pass Applications; Business Relocation Advisory; and/or Global Migration Advisory. To date, IASG has helped individuals and families from over 50 nationalities (including India, China, Philippines, USA, South America, Australia, Malaysia, Japan and Korea, to name a few) secure their futures in Singapore and have helped key foreign corporations* in moving and getting established onshore (*for legal purposes, these corporations shall not be named). 

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