Local firms investments abroad grow steadily despite tough times: IE Singapore

SINGAPORE - Singapore companies have steadily expanded their international footprint despite the challenging environment both at home and abroad, data from trade agency IE Singapore shows.

Firms which have received help from the trade agency told the media that international expansion was a necessary step, as the local market's small size and high business costs put a cap on long term growth.

IE Singapore provided assistance to 28,000 companies last year, a 5 per cent increase from 2013, the trade agency said at its annual year-in-review briefing. About 80 per cent of these were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The government agency helps spur the overseas growth of Singapore-based companies and promotes international trade.

Some $33.7 billion in direct investment flowed out of Singapore in 2013 alone, bringing the Republic's total stock of direct investment abroad to $503.5 billion.

More than half - about 57 per cent - of these investments were in Asia, where the most popular investment destinations were China, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The trade agency facilitated 342 projects across a range of sectors and markets, and gave out $44 million in grants to help companies with capability development, market access and manpower for internationalisation.