Asia’s International Trading and Finance Centres
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 8: Singapore in the New Economic Geography: From Geographical Location to the Relocation of Economic Dynamics
8. Singapore in the new economic geography: from geographic location to the relocation of economic dynamics Loïs Bastide Singapore was founded as a node within the extensive network of trading routes that developed across the British Empire. The settlement’s value laid in its highly strategic location between Europe, India, China and the Malay Archipelago at the most convenient crossroads for goods and merchants operating within these geographical sub-systems against the background of the geo-political interplay between the Dutch and the British in Asia. Indeed, its location was the only resource underpinning Singapore’s growth (Huff 1997: 7). This early advantage of geographic location was very significant within the particular patterns of trade and geo-politics of the early 19th century and, supplemented by free port status, facilitated Singapore’s growth as a major entrepôt for trade within both the British Empire and Asia. This early asset was instrumental in producing economic growth at a time when transport was slow, making distance a critical economic parameter. Yet, this ‘natural edge’ was to become less relevant following the drop in transportation costs and the marginalization of distance as a crucial economic constraint as a result of the rapid development of telecommunications and the widespread use of containerization (Trace 2002) and air transportation. However, in a context in which geography alone can no longer support Singapore’s growth, the city has succeeded in securing its pivotal position within new economic geographies largely framed by the organizational logics of transnational corporations’ production networks (Veltz 1997) and...
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