More Singapore contractors ventured overseas in 2015

Cranes at a construction site along Upper Aljunied Road.
Cranes at a construction site along Upper Aljunied Road. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

BCA offering help, encouraging companies to internationalise

The clarion call for more construction and consultancy firms here to venture overseas has met with some resounding success.

In 2015 - the most recent data - the number of projects secured by these firms doubled from 2014, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) yesterday.

Its Construction Export Survey 2016, which polled more than 1,400 firms, found that 38 contractors and 62 consultancy firms ventured abroad in 2015, up from 22 contractors and 26 consultancies in 2014.

Overall, these companies snagged 594 projects, markedly surpassing the 289 in 2014.

Among them was LKH Fire Engineering which did three to four projects in Malaysia in 2015. The firm expanded to Myanmar in February last year and secured its first contract there two months later.

Said Mr Liew Kim Hoe, who founded LKH Fire Engineering in 2010: "Internationalisation helps to enlarge our market share. We visited Myanmar on a BCA mission trip and felt it was an emerging market that offers opportunities for us."

BCA said its poll found most overseas projects involved renovation and interior works, as well as construction works in the residential and hospitality sectors.

  • 289 Number of projects the firms that ventured abroad secured in 2014.

    594 Number of projects snagged by firms that ventured abroad in 2015.

Contracts valued at about $1.74 billion were secured in overseas markets in 2015, including in Myanmar, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was slightly above the $1.7 billion annual average total export value over the past five years.

"Despite the increase in number of construction projects secured overseas, the total value of overseas contracts remained stable, indicating that projects secured in 2015 were mainly of smaller value than those in 2014," BCA said.

It said consultancy firms thrived in China, India and South-east Asia, which together accounted for 87 per cent of overseas consultancy projects in 2015.

The top four consultancy services provided were: architectural, civil and structural, mechanical and electrical engineering designs, and master planning.

"The rise in new consultancy services indicate a shift in demand in the international markets and that Singapore consultancy firms are adapting to evolving international market demands and have positioned their services accordingly," BCA said. New services included feasibility studies and consultancy training, which made up about 7 per cent of the overseas consultancy projects in 2015.

DP Architects (DPA) said it has benefited from expanding its global footprint. "Expanding internationally allows us to tap on global experiences and knowledge which is crucial to the firm's growth," said DPA chief executive Angelene Chan.

The firm serves clients in 70 countries including China, India, the UAE, Britain and nations in South-east Asia via its 17 offices worldwide; 70 per cent of its revenue was drawn from overseas markets since 2016, with the remaining 30 per cent from Singapore.

To encourage more companies to internationalise, BCA has offered a range of services such as conducting market familiarisation trips and seminars, providing market intelligence and helping to match Singapore firms with potential overseas partners.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'More S'pore contractors heading overseas'. Print Edition | Subscribe