Singapore — An Anchorvale resident shared with MP Jamus Lim how distraught he was about CECA.
The MP was on a house visit on Thursday (Mar 18) when the resident said the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) “has been unfair for Singaporean workers, and has led to both a flood of Indian nationals, alongside a loss of local opportunities”.
Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) said in a Facebook post on Friday (Mar 19) that as an international economist, he recognises that “the support for trade liberalization is seldom an unequivocal one, but based on how, on net, the benefits outweighed the costs”.
He explained that this not only means that there would generally be losers in any trade deal, but also that the extent of gains would depend on the specific conditions faced by both parties to any agreement.
Prof Lim explained that CECA seems to make the gains from the deal “less unambiguously positive”.
He added that because of India’s sheer population size, their lower costs could displace local, higher-cost Singaporeans doing the same job, and perhaps even decimate the entire local industry.
Also, because India is so much earlier in its stage of development, it could lead to a significant lowering of wages of workers exposed to such competition, even if they were to keep their jobs, Assoc Prof Lim said.
While the government has said that companies will benefit from CECA, Assoc Prof Lim added that “there is no assurance that the net benefits of trade are to be more equally distributed”.
Weighing in on Assoc Prof Lim’s post was former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng.
Mr Cheng wrote: “Many of these well-paying jobs in ICT and banking cannot be protected. If a Singaporean is unqualified, he will lose the job to the Indian national whether the job is based in Chennai or Changi”.
He added: “The jobs that can be protected will be the blue-collar manual ones”. /TISG