Asia's biggest infocomm market kicks off

SINGAPORE: Singapore never ceases to amaze. And Asia's largest information and communications technology exhibition, Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) 2004 - encompassing CommunicAsia, Broadcast Asia, EnterpriseIT and iX Conference - even more so.

At its opening a short while ago, everything worked like clockwork. The inauguration started on time and ended on the button. Ministers were punctual, bureaucrats too, and the performances were slick and short and almost everyone appeared pleased.

Some 52,000 visitors from 60 countries are expected to converge onto the world class Singapore Expo close to Changi Airport with 2,219 companies exhibiting and 38 associations supporting the event.

Clearly the mood was buoyant. "The buzz is back," said Singapore Exhibition Services Pvt Ltd chief executive Stephen Tan. "The global economy is being fueled by two emerging economic monoliths in Asia - China and India. Economic growth is in top gear across the Asia Pacific region including Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. And the ICT and media industries have been taking strong and healthy strides towards recovery."

Singapore minister of Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang echoed that sentiment, throwing up numbers to shore it up. Said he, "IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, is expected to grow by 10 per cent this year to $88 billion, compared with 3.4 per cent growth seen in 2003. This is clearly a sharp increase and reflects a rebounding market." He pointed out that Singapore is also doing very well, thank you. The revenue growth for IT companies in the island state is expected to surge by between six-seven per cent in 2004, compared with 1.7 per cent growth in revenue of S$32.7 billion in 2003. The figure is expected to continue growing by seven-nine per cent in 2005.

He added that the media business too is moving towards digitisation, radio and cinema, and that his country had recently launched the world's first fully digital cinema multiplex.

Yang pointed out that Singapore will be spending S$50 million over the next five years to develop an integrated IT platform to better serve the trade and logistics communities. When completed it will enable and create business opportunities in track and trace logistics services, he said. He added that the government, through the Economic Development Board, was setting up a users council to help involve the industry in the project.

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