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Overseas markets increasingly important for local companies: IE Singapore survey

According to the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore's annual survey released on Thursday (Feb 16), local firms recorded growth in overseas revenue that outpaced total revenue growth. Revenue from overseas also contributed to a larger share of a company’s bottom line.

SINGAPORE: The overseas market has become increasingly more important for local companies, according to the results of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore's annual survey released on Thursday (Feb 16).

It found that local firms recorded growth in overseas revenue that outpaced total revenue growth. Revenue from overseas also contributed to a larger share of a company’s bottom line.

According to IE Singapore's findings, overseas revenue for local companies grew by 4.2 per cent in 2016 compared to a year earlier, and faster than total revenue growth of 1.3 per cent.

For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), overseas revenue accounted for 53 per cent of total revenue - 3 percentage points higher than in 2015.

China, Myanmar and Vietnam were also identified as key markets for SMEs.

IE Singapore said it facilitated more than 450 projects globally in 2016, with the majority in China and Southeast Asia. Of these, 75 projects were related to entering completely new markets or new lines of businesses. Additionally, 45 were e-commerce projects, a 181 per cent increase from 2015, according to the agency.

Said Standard Chartered Bank’s regional head of research for Southeast Asia, Edward Lee: “At the moment, there is a bit of caution with regard to investments to the West. If your market (leans) towards the West you may be questioning if you need to prepare some strategies. But if you are looking to this part of the world, I think (it) remains very keen to be open to trade and to business opportunities.”

As the region urbanises rapidly, IE Singapore expects more opportunities to arise in infrastructure and the digital economy. The agency is looking to deepen its presence in key markets in order to provide better support for companies.

“For 2017, companies are facing greater uncertainty, but (from the) Government's perspective we want to continue to ensure that we have the support and where possible increase the support for them to manage the risks and manage the uncertainties. This includes looking at markets beyond a country; going much deeper,” said IE Singapore CEO Lee Ark Boon.

In 2016, IE Singapore helped 37,000 companies through their various schemes. More than 10,000 firms have received a total of S$73.4 million in grants.