Local firms need to collaborate in S’pore’s next phase of development: DPM Heng
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: Local firms need to collaborate in S’pore’s next phase of development: DPM Heng

DPM Heng Swee Keat said a spirit of “co-op-petition” will help Singapore companies thrive as they venture abroad. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Singapore start-ups are embracing diverse methods to drive sustainability and bolster long-term food security, even as the food technology sector faces high costs and mixed funding.

In the next phase of Singapore’s development, local companies must cooperate and collaborate even as they compete against one another, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday.

An example of this is the latest effort by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI) to work alongside Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) in launching a programme to help Singapore firms gain market access to China.

Called GlobalConnect@SCCCI, the scheme leverages the chamber’s local knowledge and its established business network there, while expanding on EnterpriseSG’s GlobalConnect initiative, which was set up four years ago to help companies expand globally.

The programme will be available through the Singapore Enterprise Centres in Shanghai and Chengdu, but firms can also tap support from SCCCI’s Singapore office.

SCCCI is creating a dedicated website under the GlobalConnect banner to provide businesses with resources, market information and insights about industry trends. It will be launched by the end of this year.

Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, said competition and collaboration do not have to be mutually exclusive and that a spirit of “co-op-petition” will help Singapore companies thrive as they venture abroad.

Speaking at the 26th annual SME Infocomm Commerce Conference organised by the SCCCI, he said there are two key areas where deeper collaboration is needed. One is the transformation of industries and enterprises, where companies face common challenges such as climate change or an ageing population.

The other area is to enable local companies and economic sectors to seize new growth opportunities. They may need to work together for sufficient heft or to gain a particular level of technological know-how to pursue certain opportunities.

Competition remains necessary and is “a key tenet of Singapore’s economic policy”, Mr Heng said, but “when we move from a small fishbowl to a big ocean with strong currents, it is better that we cooperate and collaborate to increase our chances of survival and success”.

He cited his visit to Switzerland, where a large and well-known precision engineering company trains more apprentices than it needs. This is to provide the rest of the industry with skilled labour and help maintain that industry’s reputation.

SCCCI president Kho Choon Keng, who also spoke at the event, presented the results of the chamber’s annual business survey for 2023.

It showed that 70 per cent of the 600 respondents expect their revenues to improve or remain unchanged from a year ago. The remaining 30 per cent expect revenues to fall.

At the same time, around 77 per cent of those surveyed expect to make profits this year, although almost half of them anticipate smaller net earnings.

Of the respondents, 77 per cent said they face higher costs, compared with 2022.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.