Asia-Pacific is the aviation industry's most vibrant market and overseas companies should continue to invest in its long-term growth says Dr Tony Tan, Singapore's deputy prime minister and minister for defence.
Speaking at the glittering opening ceremony for Asian Aerospace '98, Dr Tan said the economic crisis had not affected the market's growth.
"Growth prospects in the aerospace industry remain positive as regional governments continue to promote deregulation and liberalisation of the industry," he told the audience of VIP guests and media at Singapore's International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Singapore is well-placed to play a vital role in furthering aerospace industry growth, he adds. Its own industry is increasing at a record pace: growing 17% in 1997 to S$1.84 billion ($1.1 billion).
Today there are more than 70 aerospace companies in Singapore with wide-ranging activities in manufacturing, repair and overhaul, distribution and marketing.
The goal is to turn this into a world-class centre of excellence by focusing on technology, research and development, manufacturing and upgrading of skills and training, he says.
The region also supports an open skies policy with greater deregulation and liberalisation; promotes strict safety and security standards; and welcomes multinational aerospace companies which want to set up an operation here.
Dr Tan says that despite the current economic climate's effect on defence budgets, countries in the region are still on the look-out for defence acquisitions which they can afford now or will want to make when their economies improve.
Singapore is no exception when it comes to modernising its defence force and is prepared to commit resources to helping the Singapore Air Force fulfil its missions effectively.
"A strong air force ensures the security of Singapore, which is the bedrock for Singapore's economic progress," he said, adding that the SAF will acquire a small number of attack helicopters and will be taking the opportunity to talk to manufacturers during the airshow.
"Asian Aerospace '98 presents many opportunities both for exhibitors and visitors.
"With the potential aviation, aerospace and defence markets in Asia growing over the longer term, Asian Aerospace is poised to be an even more important business show in the years ahead."
Yesterday, at the show site, Dr Tan toured the exhibition halls and tried a few cockpits for size in the Singapore Technologies area of Hall A after cutting the red ribbon.
Source: Flight Daily News