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Asian trade growth a 'boon for logistics sector'

Publication Date : 06-09-2013


Increasingly open borders and stronger trade links across Asia present immense opportunities for the logistics industry, said former foreign minister George Yeo on Thursday.

Despite funds flowing out of emerging markets in recent weeks, "the growth story in Asia still has a long way to run", he added.

Yeo, now based in Hong Kong as the chairman of Kerry Logistics Network, was speaking at the Supply Chain Asia Forum, held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel on Thursday.

The three-day forum, which ends today, has attracted 300 or so professionals from the logistics and supply chain industry.

Yeo said after the event that as long as trade between countries continues growing and goods are being transported, "there is money to be made" for those in the logistics industry.

The prospect of an Asean common market by 2015, the 12- nation Trans Pacific Partnership free trade talks, and growing trade links between Asean and China are expected to boost the industry as more avenues for goods to be transported across borders will open up.

Besides the oft-cited examples of India and China, Yeo highlighted Myanmar as "the last piece in the jigsaw" of Asia's growth, partly due to its extensive borders with China, India and Thailand.

"Myanmar will become an important connector for huge populations," he said.

Yeo, whose father used to work as a storekeeper at a rubber godown or warehouse, said his first brush with the logistics industry was when he was helping his father.

His later roles in the army and air force, as well as in policymaking, also put him in close quarters with various aspects of the logistics industry.

The former Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC retired from politics in 2011, and joined Kerry Logistics soon after.

The company is expected to be spun off from parent company Kerry Properties - a Hong Kong-based builder controlled by the family of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok - and to launch an initial public offering in Hong Kong at a date yet to be announced.

"I thought it would be an interesting challenge, and the industry is not entirely new to me," said Yeo, who returns to Singapore about once a month.

The former minister said he "misses some aspects" of politics - such as "the sense of satisfaction from serving the common good that you can only get in the public service".


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