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Singapore hopes 3D printing and robotics will save its manufacturing sector

The future of Singapore’s manufacturing industry lies in high-tech areas such as 3D Printing and robotics, according to one of the city-state’s main planning agencies.

Reuters reports that Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) wants multinational firms to take advantage of Singapore's low tax rates and other incentives and invest in high-tech manufacturing.

As labour-intensive high volume manufacturing has moved to lower cost Asian nations, Singapore has become reliant on foreign workers. However, the EDB is aiming to decrease the presence of foreign workers yet still maintain a large manufacturing sector.  

At present, manufacturing accounts for around 20 per cent of the economy and the government wants to maintain it at this level.

"The future of manufacturing for us is about disruptive technologies, areas like 3D printing, automation and robotics," EDB Managing Director Yeoh Keat Chuan told Reuters.

Rolls-Royce and Procter & Gamble are two companies which have invested in Singapore. For example, P&G recently opened a S$250 million ($214 million) research centre in Singapore.

Similarly, last year the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Faculty of Engineering signed an agreement to establish two joint laboratories focusing on research into precision motion systems and industrial robotics.

According to Yeoh, such ventures represent the future of manufacturing in Singapore.

"Activities which are much more labour intensive and can't be sustained in Singapore will need to move out," he said.

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