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Talent needed to maintain S’pore’s commodity trading hub status

SINGAPORE — The Republic has established itself as a key commodity trading hub in Asia, but maintaining this leading position is a big challenge and the industry needs to ensure that there is a steady pipeline of talent to support continued growth, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said yesterday.

SINGAPORE — The Republic has established itself as a key commodity trading hub in Asia, but maintaining this leading position is a big challenge and the industry needs to ensure that there is a steady pipeline of talent to support continued growth, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said yesterday.

On this front, the trade development agency is ramping up efforts to promote the commodities industry to students. One of its newest undertakings includes tying up with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy to introduce trading- related courses in polytechnics here.

This follows the establishment of the International Trading Institute at Singapore Management University and the International Trading Programme at Nanyang Technological University to help groom talent for the commodity trading industry.

“It has taken us some time to get all the accolades … It’s a challenge for us to maintain those, so I think we need to keep our fingers on the button all the time to always remain at the top,” Ms Gina Lim, IE Singapore’s Group Director for Trade Services and Policy Group, told reporters yesterday as the agency released a research report by management consultancy Oliver Wyman on commodity trading hubs.

“Where we would love to improve on is getting our talent ready for this industry to meet the challenges of the future … I won’t say (there is a) shortage (of talent), but we want to keep this industry going at a sustained basis, keep encouraging people to come into the industry,” she added.

More details about the collaboration with ICC Academy will be released in the coming weeks, she said.

More than 400 global commodity players now call Singapore home, including Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp, which has set up its headquarters for global metal resources trading here, and French energy giant Total, which has moved its global marine fuel trading headquarters from Paris to Singapore.

Employment in the trading sector grew to 14,600 last year, up from 14,100 in the year before. Offshore trading volume rose to US$1.36 trillion (S$1.94 trillion) last year from US$1.34 trillion in 2013. In the face of the global commodities rout, Ms Lim said she hoped the industry in Singapore will be “no less than in the past”.

Concerns over weakening Chinese demand have placed downward pressure on prices of commodities over the last few years: China accounts for about half of the world’s copper demand and some 70 per cent of iron ore consumption. Persistent headwinds in the world’s second-largest economy have also resulted in a sell-off in equity markets, with commodity counters such as Glencore, PetroChina and Noble Group among the biggest casualties.

The Oliver Wyman report showed that more than two-thirds of the world’s major commodities are produced, consumed and traded in Asia. Singapore, which has been at the centre of “generating liquidity and lowering trade costs”, has an ever-stronger role to play, it said.

“By supporting the development of deeper and more liquid commodity markets in the Asian time zone with products tailored around Asian needs, Singapore is creating benefits not only for commodity traders but also in supporting the needs of growing economies across Asia,” the report said.

The report also showed that each year, around US$10 trillion of commodities are produced and consumed globally. Over the longer term, this is expected to rise with the growing middle class worldwide, it said.

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