ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Singapore's pro-business environment helps firms succeed
Singapore may not be the cheapest place to do business, but the country’s efficiency, predictability and high standards still make it a natural gateway for companies looking to expand in Asia, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.
Mr Lim was speaking to French and Singaporean business leaders at a seminar in Paris on the sidelines of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's official visit to France.
In a competitive global marketplace, Singapore's promise to those looking to Asia is that it will always be a pro-business environment that helps companies succeed.
Mr Lim elaborated: "Singapore is entering a new phase. As our economy matures, we expect slower but qualitatively better growth. Singapore continues to welcome talent and investments, while being mindful of our physical and social constraints."
Another plus is Singapore's extensive trade links, which can connect companies to markets around the world.
The European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), which was finalised in September, could be ratified soon.
Consumer goods and food producers account for more than one quarter of French exports to Singapore.
Their market position could be strengthened when the EUSFTA comes into force, as it is expected to improve the protection of intellectual property rights.
But whether the agreement will increase prices of already expensive products, Martin Yuoon, assistant executive director of Singapore Business Federation, said: "I don't think it will raise the price.
"It will probably give the products better protection, give them more marketing edge, rather than take the opportunity to raise the price. I think the price is all down to demand and supply."
Singapore companies stand to benefit too.
In all, the free trade deal is expected to boost Singapore’s exports to the EU by an estimated US$480 million a year.
Singapore is France's third largest trading partner in Asia, after China and Japan.
Bilateral trade between the two countries hit an all-time high of US$15.6 billion (S$19.2 billion, 11.3 billion euros) in 2012.
Singapore is also the second most popular Asian destination for French investors; their investments in the city total some US$9 billion (S$11 billion, 6.5 billion euros).
With Singapore’s investments in France remaining "modest", Mr Lim said there are opportunities for Singapore firms to do more in this mature market.
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