Business News of 2014-06-12

Singapore businesses eye Africa

Businesses in Singapore have urged their African counterparts to look beyond India, China and Europe for trading and projects partners as they expressed readiness to strengthen their business dealings with African economies.
The Vice Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Ambassador Shabbir Hassanbhai, noted that there are significant prospects in the Southeast Asian region (ASEAN), which offer trading opportunities and project partners for African businesses beyond the usual destinations in Europe, India and China.
“The next focus of Africa should be the ASEAN region; we have an about-600 million population. Africa always looks to China, India and Europe but there is a huge potential in the ASEAN region. African countries must change their focus because we are open to third-world country collaborations,” he said.
The ASEAN region which has 10 economies -- including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia -- contains about 8.8 percent of the world’s population and has a combined nominal GDP of about US$2.3trillion.
Ambassador Hassanbhai, who is also Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Nigeria, said Singapore is one of the strongest economies in the ASEAN region and has already made several trade missions to Africa in a bid to tap into the long-term opportunities in Africa, which it considers to be the next frontier for business.
He added: “We need to do some catch-up with some African countries like China and India have done. Since 2010, we have had about 19 trade missions go to Africa which have received positive reactions.”
In the last week of August this year, Singapore will be hosting the third Africa Singapore Business Forum as a way to stimulate stronger trade and investment flows between the two markets, as many developing economies look to Singapore as a hub in Asia for developmental expertise and financing.
Over the past decade, trade between Singapore and Africa has more than tripled to reach about US$12billion last year. Additionally, Singapore’s investments into Africa have seen a compound annual growth rate of 11.2 percent over the past five years to reach about US$16billion.
Ambassador Hassanbhai noted that one of the biggest partnerships Africa can have with economies in the ASEAN region is in the area of agriculture, empowerment of people through poverty alleviation programmes, transport and logistics, financing, and manufacturing among others, adding: “These are areas where Singapore have an expertise that is unmatched anywhere else in the world”.
According to International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the Singapore government agency tasked with promoting Singapore’s external economy through trade and overseas investments, there are currently over 60 Singapore companies operating in over 50 countries in Africa.
Last year, IE Singapore opened offices on the continent in Johannesburg and Accra in a bid to push Singaporean companies to invest in other regions of the world, due to the to the small land size of Singapore, inhabited by about 5.5 million people.
IE Singapore is also hoping to use the Ghana office as a hub to support companies in ECOWAS venturing into Asia, using Singapore as a base for their regional operations as the country is strategically located in the heart of Asia and has well-connected infrastructure to the region.
Source: B&FT
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