Australia and Singapore, the dynamic duo of the Asia-Pacific region, have fostered a robust economic partnership, with Singapore proudly holding the title of Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN and ranking as the sixth-largest globally, boasting a staggering $27 billion in two-way trade in 2020.
However, the global business stage is no stranger to turbulence, with recent years marked by heightened uncertainty due to the pandemic, China-United States trade tensions, and ongoing geopolitical conflicts.
In these uncertain times, the resilience and adaptability of Australian businesses in Singapore shine through, as revealed by a recent online survey conducted by AustCham and CITBA.
A Bright Outlook for Business
Despite global upheaval, a significant 63% of surveyed organisations reported improved business performance compared to the pre-pandemic era. An impressive 81% are optimistic about increased revenue in the next year. Amid the optimism, challenges loom, including global economic uncertainty, the cost of doing business, and talent attraction. Nevertheless, these businesses remain undaunted, with a keen focus on growth, operational efficiencies, and branding.
Plotting a Course for International Expansion
International expansion is the name of the game, with 88% of respondents considering expansion in the next five years. Their sights are set on destinations like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Motivations for expansion range from increased demand due to COVID-19 to geopolitical tensions outside the Asia-Pacific region and improved staff mobility. Remarkably, 47.06% of respondents see opportunities in China’s Belt and Road Initiatives, showcasing their adaptability in seeking new avenues of growth.
Navigating the Singapore Immigration Policy Maze
Navigating Singapore’s immigration policies is another challenge. Almost 53% plan to grow their Singaporean workforce in the next year. However, talent shortages persist, particularly in ESG-related skills, IT, and engineering. A majority, 55%, find the qualifying salary benchmark set in March 2022 too high, necessitating policy adjustments. While COMPASS garners some optimism (23%), transparency concerns linger.
Sustainability: The Name of the Game
Sustainability takes centre stage, with a significant 72% actively engaged in sustainable practices. Water efficiency, waste reduction, and energy efficiency top their list of initiatives. Their motivations span industry norms, cost reduction, and heightened customer awareness. Challenges include a lack of information on the costs and benefits of sustainable solutions and the absence of standardized performance benchmarks.
In short, Australian businesses in Singapore display resilience, optimism, and a commitment to sustainability as they navigate a complex global landscape. Their strategies and experiences offer valuable insights into thriving in the Lion City and the broader ASEAN region.
Download the Austcham Singapore Business Sentiments & Sustainable Practice Report 2023 here.