Govt to look at helping local firms expand abroad

Office workers crossing a road at Robinson Road.
Office workers crossing a road at Robinson Road.ST PHOTO: RUDY WONG

Helping companies expand overseas will be a key pillar for the Government in its efforts to help local industry here.

This was discussed at length at a two-hour meeting yesterday involving Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran; Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education; and 15 other industry leaders at the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) office.

SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng said after the gathering that he was glad that a committee to review the economy has been announced. "We are very pleased that this committee had been formed, and definitely we will work closely with the members of the committee to give our views."

Singapore's internationalisation strategy will be followed up on in subsequent meetings, said Mr Teo.

Mr Iswaran also met some 20 other members of the business community at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday morning.

"(Internationalisation) will be another aspect of the economic strategy going forward," he said later.

Despite growing concerns of an economic slowdown, business leaders have recognised that this is "part and parcel" of the business cycle, and were keen to look for new opportunities as well, he said.

"I think the key point is they see internationalisation as one important aspect of the longer-term strategy for Singapore's businesses and the economy," Mr Iswaran added.

"The fundamental question for us is... in what form can government support be rendered to make this workable, and at the same time yield the kind of economic benefits for our own economy - whether it's in terms of new (economic) activities, and also in terms of opportunities for Singaporeans."

Mr Iswaran also identified e-commerce as a "different dimension to internationalisation" that sets up a new set of challenges.

"You need the front end, in terms of the marketing, you need the payment support systems, and you also need the back end in terms of the fulfilment, logistics and so on."

Such projects could thrive on more collaboration between the business community and government agencies, but also collaborations between firms across different industries to evolve their business models, said Mr Iswaran.

He shared how food and beverage outlets could explore the idea of sharing a central kitchen with a food manufacturer, and enlist the services of a logistics firm for delivery. "This is an example of sectors coming together in order to see how they can complement each other in an effective way and not just think in terms of specific sectors or silos," said Mr Iswaran.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2015, with the headline 'Govt to look at helping local firms expand abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe