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Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC) and The Austrian Business Association (ABA) Host Dialogue Session With Singapore Tripartism Forum (STF) – Minister Lim Swee Say Addresses Challenges of Foreign Businesses in Singapore

The Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC), together with the Austrian Business Association (ABA) welcomed the STF leaders for a luncheon and dialogue session on 4 May at the Orchard Hotel. The SGC and the ABA are the first foreign Chambers to host the STF dialogue session. During the dialogue session, the STF – comprising the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the Singapore National Employers' Federation (SNEF) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) – reiterated its objectives in improving the work environment, building good labour management relations and promoting good employment practices. Minister Lim Swee Say, who is also Secretary-General, NTUC said, "Foreign businesses in Singapore form an integral part of the framework of Singapore businesses, and it is because of this that we must also understand clearly their needs and address them appropriately."

2.   The STF outlined the structure of the STF, and its role in creating mutual trust and respect amongst the unions, employees and the government. Reiterating the point brought up by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that this arrangement in Singapore is unique, the STF seeks to create a shared purpose – such as economic growth, competitiveness, improved quality of life – which will benefit both Singaporeans and foreigners.

3.   During the dialogue session, NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say, Mr Stephen Lee, President, SNEF, and Chairman of SBF and Mr Aubeck Kam, Deputy Secretary of MOM took the opportunity to address a number of interesting questions brought up by members of both Chambers. The topics discussed ranged from the role of unions, National Wages Council to foreign workers.

4.   The foreign Chambers appreciate the government's initiative to promote industrial harmony within the country. Ensuring a congruous environment translates to a continued favourable investment climate. With many foreign businesses setting up in Singapore and the increase of companies from different parts of the world, mutual trust and respect becomes an important ingredient in maintaining growth and stability.

5.   Mr Manfred Schmoelz, President of the SGC echoed the voices of many foreign businesses in Singapore when he said, "It is important that the STF engages foreign businesses in Singapore. With the increase in foreigners and foreign businesses, the importance of engaging the foreign contingent becomes imperative. Creating an inclusive environment will allow such businesses to 'feel' the Singapore beat, and thus generate feelings of belonging and unity."

6.   NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say, making reference to the theme for this year's May Day Celebrations – Labour Movement For All, highlighted that the labour movement aims to be an inclusive one that is relevant to and looks after the needs of workers of all ages, collars and nationalities. This is important towards building a progressive, inclusive and cohesive Singapore. It would involve the labour movement's close collaboration with the tripartite partners, as well as other social and economic partners, including foreign businesses and communities in Singapore. Thus, the STF will actively promote tripartite activities and dialogue sessions amongst the labour movement, tripartite partners and the foreign businesses so that Singapore would be able to ride the waves of globalisation and stay competitive.

7.   Members of the ABA who attended the session agreed with the aims set by the NTUC. Mr Erich Eber, President of the ABA said, "The stability of the economy is exemplified by the ability of the workers to be able to work with the government and unions on an equal footing. This inclusiveness not only ensures its competitiveness, but also assures adaptability. These advantages are very crucial to new foreign businesses."

8.   In concluding the session, Mr Stephen Lee called on the German Chamber to also participate actively and work with the SNEF to present their views and ideas at tripartite forums.  He said that the German chamber could work with SNEF to set up workgroups to address specific challenges faced by the German employers which could then channel ideas and feedback to the tripartite agencies.


The Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC) is part of the international network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK), which spans across 80 countries. The SGC was established in 2004 to promote and strengthen bilateral trade through the provision of advisories, a ready network of business contacts, market intelligence and business support services. The SGC is the primary source of reliable information on German business in Singapore and the German economic and business scene. It is a voice for the business research conducted by its established network of Expert Groups, and serves as an excellent networking platform for over 420 members.

Members also benefit from services such as market research, regular publications, timely reviews and reports, business meetings, events and seminars provided under the umbrella of DEInternational, the SGC's business service division. Through its Trade Fairs arm, the SGC represents three of Germany's largest trade fair organizers Deutsche Messe, Messe Berlin and Nürnberg Messe, and provides specialized services to companies participating in trade fairs. The SGC also fulfills public obligations on behalf of the German government. Being closely linked to ministries and other chambers in Germany, the SGC is a bridge to contacts with companies, associations, and the government in Germany.