The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme) wants the upcoming Budget to offer provide more assistance to companies that want to grow beyond their local base.
The 22-page report released on Tuesday expresses SMEs' hope that local banks can be encouraged to fund equity of SMEs to encourage both local and foreign expansions and acquisitions.
Of the 473 survey respondents, 71.3 per cent said they intended to expand overseas over the next two years, Asme said on Tuesday.
The majority of the SMEs were looking at options in the South-east Asian region, with Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam coming out tops as the preferred destination. By moving out of Singapore's shores, the SMEs can source new market opportunities and lower their labour costs.
The SMEs surveyed said that the lack of awareness on the rules and regulations in a foreign country and difficulty in finding a trustworthy partner there are among their top concerns when they studied expanding overseas.
SMEs also hope to get more assistance in attracting locals to join them. Asme has called for more incentives to be given to Singaporean employees who work for SMEs and more benefits to be offered to attract retirees and mothers back to the workforce. Separately, Asme also asked for the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme to be extended for another two to three years.