The coronavirus pandemic has thrown into sharp focus the role of government in supporting the economy during periods of crises.

But it has also highlighted the role big business can play.

Look at Singapore. As the Asia-Pacific headquarters for many major corporations, the country has long invested in business stability even as geopolitical tensions flare globally. So when a spike in Covid-19 cases threatened to tip that equilibrium, authorities moved quickly, announcing more than $73 billion in stimulus — with the latest top-up just last week.

The manufacturing, retail, business services, and finance industries are some of biggest contributors to Singapore's GDP.

The manufacturing, retail, business services, and finance industries are some of biggest contributors to Singapore’s GDP.CNBC

Yet, despite weathering its first recession since 2009, some multinationals from the country’s leading industries have managed to find opportunities to forge ahead. From leading crisis relief efforts to supporting other companies, CNBC Make It looks at how firms from Singapore’s manufacturing, banking and technology sectors have supported that effort to revive the economy. 

Jonathan Chee Sze Chiang’s Responding in crisis

During the height of the pandemic, manufacturing — Singapore’s largest industry by nominal GDP — was the only sector to grow, expanding 2.5% as demand for biomedical goods surged. We made the conscious decision to invest in additional capacity for the next pandemic.

Manufacturer applied lessons from the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak to run its manufacturing lines 24/7 and double global production. 

“We made the conscious decision to invest in additional capacity for the next pandemic,” Jonathan Chee Sze Chiang, COO for SinCo Technologies.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, production of N95 respirators was ramped up to 24/7 at 3M's global manufacturing centers.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, production of N95 respirators was ramped up to 24/7 at 3M’s global manufacturing centers.3M

In the first half of 2020, 3M produced more than 800 million respirators worldwide, even as border closures threatened to disrupt output. It worked with local authorities in Singapore — home of the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters — to keep the business moving and locally rehouse staff who typically commuted daily from neighboring Malaysia

Supporting other businesses

Meanwhile, as nationwide lockdowns have brought many industries to a standstill, the financial services sector had an important role to play in providing funding to keep businesses afloat. As with any economy, you’ll find the SMEs are the bedrock. Tse Koon Shee GROUP EXECUTIVE, SINGAPORE COUNTRY HEAD, DBS

That included measures to ease cash flow constraints for Singapore’s more than 270,000 small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs account for 99% of businesses in Singapore and 72% of the workforce. During the peak of the outbreak, DBS — Southeast Asia’s largest bank — made $3.5 billion in temporary bridging loans to keep many of them going. Of those, around nine in 10 (87%) were made to small and micro-enterprises. 

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