The Iskandar region will not pose a threat to Singapore's manufacturing sector but enhance it, said Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan.
Mr Lee told a business seminar yesterday: "Both Iskandar and Singapore offer different value propositions.
"Singapore is expensive but we are highly skilled. We have physical infrastructure... technology support and depth of talent.
"Iskandar offers a wide expanse of land and good infrastructure, and they are trying to build up a talent pool of mid-level workers."
Mr Lee was a panellist at a productivity seminar organised by the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council and the SME Magazine, and held at the Singapore Press Holdings auditorium.
Panellists and speakers offered insights on the challenges that small and medium-sized enterprises might face in lifting productivity.
"We have to make full use of the hinterland to support our operations... As our companies grow, they will reach a point beyond which they will have to go overseas," Mr Lee told an audience of more than 200.
Mr Thomas Chua, chairman and managing director of printing and packaging firm Teckwah Industrial Corp, said the company's investments in Singapore are "three times what we invested in Iskandar".
"In Iskandar, we are making use of the lower costs of land, utilities... in Iskandar, we are talking about capacity, but in Singapore, we focus on business model innovation," said Mr Chua, who was both a panellist and a speaker at the seminar. "Even though we have invested in both places, we have not duplicated our operations. They are complementary."
The seminar and panel discussion also touched on how firms should take the first step towards improving productivity.
Panellist and speaker Sam Chee Wah, general manager of precision engineering firm Feinmetall Singapore, said productivity enhancements need not be costly: Companies can start small.
"Within the company, you can modify processes and housekeeping to help staff save time... This is not very difficult," he said.
"Productivity doesn't necessarily mean full automation or sophisticated software, or tearing up the whole production process... don't look at productivity enhancements as a big goal you cannot reach."
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