Singapore: Singapore is unlikely to overtake Switzerland as the biggest wealth centre in the world any time soon, but it should strive to play to its strength in world of global finance, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.
Assessing Singapore's future as a financial hub, he said Singapore was focusing on a number of growth areas, not just in wealth management.
The city state has already honed its expertise in many areas of finance, including fixed income, capital markets, foreign exchange and investment banking, said Lee at DBS Asian Insight Conference yesterday.
DBS is Singapore's largest bank.
More recently, Singapore has built its reputation as a wealth management centre, ranking second to Switzerland which currently has USD 2 trillion in assets.
A Pricewaterhouse Coopers report said the country could overtake Switzerland as the top wealth centre in the world by 2015.
Lee, however, pointed out that even though Singapore has about USD 1 trillion in assets under management, the republic is unlikely to take top spot.
"I don't think that's true. I don't want that to be my marketing line," Lee was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
"We are quite happy to continue our way quietly in the world," said Lee in a dialogue with DBS chief executive officer Piyush Gupta.
The Prime Minister highlighted the unique strength that Singapore can leverage to continue building its reputation as a global financial hub.
With its robust regulatory system, it would be in a good position to remain a key financial centre amid sweeping regulatory changes introduced globally in recent years to curb problems like tax evasion, Lee pointed out.
"We have a financial centre, not quite like New York, neither are we like Cayman Islands. We are a reputable jurisdiction, and we play according to global rules," he said.
Lee said Singapore has been focusing on other areas of growth such as becoming an offshore Chinese yuan centre.
Singapore joined Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau in having a yuan clearing bank in February.
As the region's economies continue to grow, banks would also want to base their operations out of Singapore, he noted.
Responding to Gupta's question on ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, Lee said major progress has been made to create a stronger regional economic integration in areas like FTAs, but not "every piece will fall into place" on time.
When asked about the US role in the region, Lee said Washington will always have an important role to play, and should continue to "balance" China in the region, participating alongside with Beijing for a constructive relationship.
First Published: Saturday, July 6, 2013, 09:11