China remains key market for local firms, says Enterprise Singapore

The Singapore Business Federation plans to bring a delegation of more than 100 companies to the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November.

SINGAPORE - China will continue to be a key market for Singapore companies, an Enterprise Singapore official said on Wednesday morning (March 6).

Ms Eunice Koh, assistant chief executive of the government trade promotion agency, cited the Chinese consumer market as a major draw in remarks at a Singapore Business Federation (SBF) media briefing on Wednesday, a day after China cut its annual growth target.

The SBF is again leading a delegation to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai in November, and plans to bring more than 100 companies, up from the 80 businesses that it took to the inaugural expo in 2018. It wants to set up pavilions for trade in services, food and agriculture, and "quality life" at the expo.

The SBF has booked some 2,000 square metres of exhibition space, up from 1,425 sq m in 2018, with more space to go to the food and beverage industry. It also plans to hold business-matching sessions to help promote Singapore businesses to Chinese partners.

SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng told the briefing that "increased consumer purchasing power in China remains the biggest attraction for Singapore firms who wish to deepen their market penetration in Asia", alongside "continued demand for high-quality goods and services".

Meanwhile, "China has been, and will continue to be, a key market for our companies", Ms Koh said at the briefing, noting that Chinese consumption rose year on year in the first 11 months of 2018 despite slower global growth.

She also noted that Singapore was China's top foreign investor from 2013 to 2017 while China is the Republic's biggest trading partner.

Ms Koh added that Singapore businesses "must persist with their internationalisation efforts in order to scale up" and called platforms like the CIIE "a good avenue to reach out to the very savvy Chinese consumers".

"Beyond simply looking at China as an end-market, we would also like to encourage companies to seek out Chinese partners to co-innovate and create customised products and services for specific groups of the market," she also said.

Mr Teo added in a statement: "Trading with China can open doors to other opportunities, including the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We urge Singapore companies to take advantage of this valuable platform that could put their business at the heart of the world's fastest-growing economy."

The CIIE, which was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, will this year span 300,000 sq m of floor space across five domains: equipment, consumption, food, health, and services.

Ms Zhong Manying, minister-counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, said that more than half of the upcoming exhibition area has already been booked.

Representatives from the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry were also present at the briefing.

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