IE Singapore helped 26,000 companies in overseas plans in 2013

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore helped over 26,000 companies in their overseas plans last year, up 23.9 per cent from 2012.

Among these, more than 85 per cent were small and medium-sized enterprises, the trade promotion agency said.

Most of the companies, 91.7 per cent, benefited from IE's Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) scheme, which provides broad-based support to companies new to internationalisation.

Specifically, they received access to market information from experts and were guided on the basics of doing business abroad through seminars, workshops, research databases and more.

Over $15.7 million was approved in grants under MRA to 3,574 companies to get them started on their internationalisation journeys. These covered support for participation in trade shows, conducting market assessments and market entry activities such as overseas legal registration.

IE also approved $24.8 million in grants to 348 companies through its Global Company Partnership (GCP) scheme, which is targeted at bigger firms. The grants were used for capabilities development, market access and manpower for internationalisation.

IE also helped 1,846 companies with $774.8 million in trade and financing loans, and $2.84 billion in insured investments and sales.

Besides financial support, IE provided assistance to 275 projects overseas. This included introduction of business leads, liaison with overseas government officials and project discussions.

On average, the contract sales value per project facilitated increased from $23 million per project in 2012 to $33 million per project in 2013.

Meanwhile, IE said Singapore's total external trade declined by 0.5 per cent, reaching $980.2 billion in 2013. Total exports expanded by 0.6 per cent, while imports declined by 1.6 per cent.

China took top spot as Singapore's number one trading partner, up from the third position in the previous year as Singapore's trade with China rose 11 per cent to $115.2 billion.