Singapore digest news (07.02 - 12.02)

Photo by Sergey Pronin

News of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russian Federation:
- The Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation will soon send its permanent representative to Singapore;
- The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation has chosen Singapore as one of the first countries to have a Digital Attache to support Russian IT exports.

Experts in Singapore have called for the abolition of mask-wearing and for allowing mass events.
Health experts believe the situation in Singapore allows for further easing of restrictions, including the partial elimination of the requirement to wear protective masks. The Straits Times reported this on Friday.
"Singapore, having achieved a high level of vaccination as well as having prepared its health care system, is ready to relax restrictions to pursue the COVID-19 course," pointed out Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore. He said he could talk about lifting restrictions on the number of participants in various outdoor events, as well as waiving the requirement not to gather in groups of more than five people. In addition, the expert believes that the authorities could abolish the requirement to wear protective masks on the streets.

Russians vaccinated with WHO-approved vaccines will be able to enter Singapore
"Singapore has previously established a number of entry rules for foreign nationals. One of the main principles was the availability of two doses of WHO-listed drugs for emergency use," the agency said in response to a question about the possibility of intensifying travel due to the recognition of the Russian vaccine in most Southeast Asian states, as well as in Australia.
Authorities in Singapore will leave in place current rules for entry of foreigners providing vaccinations with vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). The republic's Ministry of Health told TASS on Thursday, commenting on the possibility of unilaterally recognizing the Sputnik V vaccine.
In the last quarter of last year, Singapore opened so-called corridors for vaccinated travelers from more than 20 countries, including Australia, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Foreigners who have spent the last 14 days in these countries with a certificate of vaccination and confirmation of a negative PCR test result are free to enter Singapore, where they will not need quarantine.

Singapore has developed a fast COVID-19 test based on the principle of a breathalyzer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) have developed a rapid COVID-19 test that works on the principle of a breathalyzer. A recent study has shown that the diagnostic accuracy of this method reaches 95% even in the asymptomatic course of the disease - the same rate as PCR testing.
The device is based on Raman spectroscopy technology, which allows the identification of certain molecular structures with great accuracy. The tester contains three Raman sensors that identify volatile organic compounds that correspond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
It takes only 10 seconds of breathing to collect the sample. The tester is then placed in a small handheld spectrometer, which produces results in less than five minutes.
In a recent study, a prototype device was tested on 501 people, and participants also underwent PCR testing to compare diagnostic accuracy. The results showed 0.1 percent false positives and 3.8 percent false negatives, which is consistent with the accuracy of laboratory tests.

Singapore students will get support
The National University of Singapore plans to allocate S$15 million a year to expand financial aid to Singaporean students from low-income families. The money will support government scholarships to fully cover tuition fees and financial support for living expenses, campus stays and overseas program expenses.

Singapore: positive retail sector news - UOB
UOB Group economist Barnabas Gan assesses the latest retail sales data in Singapore.
Retail sales in Singapore rose 6.7% y/y (+2.3% m/m cum) in December 2021, beating the 4.6% forecast. Including the latest data, Singapore's retail sales rose 11.1% for all of 2021.
The retail sales index was buoyed by strong spending on durable goods and selective consumer goods. Notably, online retail sales in value terms rose to their highest level since December 2017, while the return of tourism-related demand may also have supported overall retail sales.
Continued retail sales growth in December points to a solid recovery in Singapore's retail sector. In 2022, retail sales performance will depend on the recovery of Singapore's domestic economy and the gradual opening of its borders. Excluding the exacerbation of COVID-19 risks in Singapore and across the region, we believe retail sales will increase by 6.0% in 2022.

Singapore's fintech sector has raised a record sum thanks to cryptocurrency
Investment in Singapore's financial technology (fintech) sector grew 47% in 2021 to a record $3.94 billion, according to a Pulse of FinTech report by audit and consulting conglomerate KMPG, US IT news portal ZDNet reported on February 8.
A total of 191 deals were recorded in the sector for 2021. That's a 37% increase over 2020 and a five-year high for Singapore. The combined volume of venture capital, private equity and M&A transactions of $2.48 billion in 2020 to $3.94 billion.
The bulk of the deals came in the second half of 2021. There were 95 deals totaling $2.98 billion in the second half of the year. KMPG believes this was due to the conditions Singapore creates for the market. In particular, the creation of conditions for entry to the stock exchange, bypassing the IPO, through the SPAC.

Singapore approves Korean Air and Asiana merger
Korean Air Lines has received "unconditional approval" from regulators in Singapore to integrate with Asiana Airlines, which could speed up the merger of the two carriers. Last January, Korean Air filed papers with antitrust regulators in 14 countries to consider a business merger with Asiana. As of Feb. 9, seven countries - Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines - had granted approval. Approval is pending from the FTC, China, Japan, the U.K., Australia, the EU and the U.S. The Fair Trade Commission is expected to approve the integration of the country's two largest carriers, provided that they give up a number of slots, that is, time slots allocated to them at airports for takeoffs and landings, so as not to retain excessive market share. After the deal, Korean Air, which is currently the 18th largest airline in the world in terms of fleet size, will become Asiana's largest shareholder with a 63.9 percent stake. Korean Air intends to create a merged company with Asiana in 2024, promising to optimize routes and reduce maintenance costs.