Economic Development Board (EDB)
Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) is a quasi governmental agency commissioned to ensure Singapore's continuous economic growth by providing a friendly business environment for Multi National Corporations (MNCs) and local businesses to invest and expand.
Adapting to Changing Circumstances
Throughout its history, the EDB has exploited crises to refine its mission and transform its structure.
The EDB's first phase was a response to expulsion from Malaysia in 1965 and Indonesia's trade embargo following Britain's withdrawal in 1967.Singapore lost access to raw materials and export markets and was faced with major unemployment that had the potential to cause social unrest.The EDB reorganized to attract MNCs that would invest in export-oriented labor intensive industries.Two overseas centers in New York and Hong Kong were opened as a result.
By 1967-68, with unemployment tamed and high trade barriers on Singapore's labor-intensive exports, the EDB no longer excelled at attracting suitable foreign investment. The organization changed its focus to making Singapore the world's 'precision engineering shop' by promoting investment in capital and skills intensive fields.Functions associated with labor-intensive manufactures, such as finance and land, were spun-off while new activities better able to promote capital and skills intensive industries, such as R&D collaborations, were adopted.
Singapore's 1985 recession showed that foreign investors found Singapore too expensive and that local industries had been neglected by government policy.The EDB responded by promoting Singapore as a hub and headquarters for firms seeking to manufacture in neighboring Indonesia or Malaysia and by opening the Small Enterprise Bureau.The bureau encouraged local businesses to integrate into MNCs' supply chains, thereby improving their operations and connecting them to export markets.
Growing labor costs and globalization in the 1990s pushed the EDB to identify new service industries such as finance and tourism.
Recently, the EDB realized it could exploit Singapore's unique needs in areas such as urban solutions, ageism, and health care to provide a test-bed for emerging industries with a global market.