SINGAPORE — Local companies seeking out new areas of opportunity would do well to look at Singapore’s neighbouring economies in South-east Asia and India, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) Mr S Iswaran at the Asean-India Business Forum organised by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore on Friday (April 21).
In the face of growing economic and political uncertainty in many of the traditional overseas markets, including China, Europe and the United States, the regional markets represent significant economic opportunities, he said.
“In order for our companies to strengthen business linkages with Southeast Asia and India, we need to build a larger pool of Singaporeans with deep knowledge of business, trade and investment in these regions,” said Mr Lee Ark Boon, CEO of IE Singapore.
To equip Singapore companies with the manpower to reach out to these areas, IE Singapore has allocated S$360,000 to fund internships in the South-east Asian offices of local companies. The Go Southeast Asia Award will target undergraduates in their final year. Up to 30 awards worth S$12,000 each will be made available to students to cover their living and travel expenses as well as company stipend. Companies on board this programme include OCBC, Pico Art and Stamford Tyres.
In India, IE Singapore is partnering the Confederation of Indian Industry which has over 8,000 members. Singapore universities – Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University – will be able to tap on overseas attachment opportunities for enrolled students from the group of Indian enterprises, through IE Singapore’s Young Talent Programme.
With a quarter of the world’s population, the countries of Asean and India together account for a combined nominal gross development product (GDP) of US$4.5 trillion (S$6.3 trillion), and in India alone, consumption is expected to grow four-fold over the next eight years.
Urging companies to increase their engagement in both depth and understanding, Mr Iswaran said Singapore enterprises have to chart new areas. In Indonesia, for instance, Singapore is working with Makassar City on smart city solutions. Trade agency IE Singapore is also partnering companies in Medan, Semarang and Bali to explore opportunities relating to cruise, marina and land transportation, outside of the traditional commerce hubs of Jakarta and Surabaya.
In Myanmar, cities in the Mandalay and Ayeyarwaddy regions have a need for infrastructure, transport, logistics and utilities solutions, outside of the capital city of Yangon. While in India, IE Singapore has established links with the state governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan, and the cities of Amaravati and Pune, to develop smart urban solutions and tourism.