80% of firms given help to venture overseas are SMEs

Trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore has assisted Singapore companies seeking to venture overseas in some 99,000 cases since 2014, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann told Parliament yesterday.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for about 80 per cent of companies that benefited from these efforts, she added.

Ms Sim highlighted several key programmes to help companies internationalise, including the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) and Global Company Partnership (GCP) schemes.

The MRA provides broad-based assistance to companies starting to go abroad, while the GCP gives targeted assistance to companies with a more established overseas presence.

"Through the MRA and GCP schemes, IE Singapore supported over 3,500 internationalisation projects for SMEs since 2014, 30 per cent of which were to help companies penetrate new overseas markets," Ms Sim said.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) had asked the Ministry of Trade and Industry for an update on its efforts to help SMEs expand and venture overseas.

Ms Sim added that IE Singapore has also partnered trade associations and chambers (TACs) to organise business missions to overseas markets. There have been a total of 80 such business missions since 2014, benefiting 1,190 companies, "the majority of which were SMEs", Ms Sim added. "Finally, IE Singapore's network of 37 overseas centres provides companies with in-market assistance," she noted.

Ms Lee asked whether there are plans to bring more SMEs on board for government-to-government projects.

Ms Sim noted that the scope of such projects, like those between Singapore and China, is expanding, and cited the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative as an example.

This will allow more Singapore SMEs in more industries to leverage the opportunities provided.

One challenge, she added, is to reach out and encourage more SMEs to take part in programmes organised by TACs and the Government.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2017, with the headline '80% of firms given help to venture overseas are SMEs'. Print Edition | Subscribe