How Sin­ga­pore is lever­ag­ing its part­ner­ship with Ger­many

Ger­many has around S$15b in­vested in Sin­ga­pore.

Singapore Business Review - - COUNTRY REPORT: GERMANY -

When Ger­man trad­ing com­pany Behn Meyer’s doors first opened in Sin­ga­pore in Novem­ber 1840, lit­tle did ev­ery­one know that it would pi­o­neer the in­te­gral role of Ger­man busi­nesses in Sin­ga­pore’s eco­nomic suc­cess sev­eral decades later.

In fact, over the last ten years, the num­ber of Ger­man com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore has tripled to a 1,600-strong list, strength­en­ing Ger­many as Sin­ga­pore’s prin­ci­pal goods trad­ing part­ner in the Euro­pean Union and like­wise, Sin­ga­pore as Ger­many’s sec­ond most im­por­tant eco­nomic part­ner in the ASEAN re­gion.

This long-stand­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the two coun­tries has led to tight-knit col­lab­o­ra­tion in sev­eral in­dus­tries, mainly chem­i­cals, bio­med­i­cal sciences, elec­tron­ics, en­gi­neer­ing, and lo­gis­tics.

Ger­many has around S$15b for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment stock in Sin­ga­pore, and ac­cord­ing to

Tim Philippi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Sin­ga­porean-ger­man Cham­ber of In­dus­try and Com­merce (SGC), the to­tal trade be­tween the two coun­tries has amounted to ap­prox­i­mately S$20.8b.

But what re­ally were the crit­i­cal fac­tors that led to Sin­ga­pore and Ger­many’s strong col­lab­o­ra­tion?

Philippi, as the lead of the plat­form for Sin­ga­porean and Ger­man com­pa­nies, says that both coun­tries have been re­cep­tive to devel­op­ment and the fos­ter­ing of busi­ness re­la­tion­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions, with fo­cus on com­pet­i­tive­ness and high­end so­lu­tions for fu­ture readi­ness.

In­no­va­tion-driven na­tions

Philippi adds that SGC has also ob­served stark sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two coun­tries in terms of dig­i­tal health­care, high-end man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­ergy ef­fi­ciency (build­ings, in­dus­try), smart city (big data, smart lo­gis­tics, smart trans­port), In­dus­trie 4.0 (in­dus­trial in­ter­net of things), and wa­ter tech­nol­ogy, among oth­ers.

Fur­ther, the in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity and com­ple­men­tar­ity be­tween the two coun­tries is es­pe­cially seen in their eco­nomic his­to­ries, wherein both Ger­many and Sin­ga­pore have gone through dif­fer­ent phases of eco­nomic devel­op­ment at al­most the same time, from labour-in­ten­sive to now R&D and in­no­va­tion-driven.

Now, Sin­ga­pore and Ger­many are closer to In­dus­trie 4.0 than many oth­ers. Philippi high­lights that as of late, Ger­man com­pa­nies have been in­vest­ing in cen­tres of ex­cel­lence in ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing in Sin­ga­pore and ini­ti­at­ing sup­port ser­vices for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of In­dus­trie 4.0 pro­cesses for Sin­ga­porean com­pa­nies.

ASEAN’S sweet spot

Ac­cord­ing to Philippi, Sin­ga­pore found a way to en­cour­age com­pa­nies to grow ca­pa­bil­i­ties and con­duct new or ex­panded ac­tiv­i­ties in Sin­ga­pore.

“Cer­tain sec­tors are ro­bust and at­trac­tive for Ger­man busi­nesses. The Sin­ga­porean gov­ern­ment is in­vest­ing in ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies to en­hance the com­pet­i­tive­ness of com­pa­nies and bet­ter po­si­tion them for the fu­ture. Ger­man com­pa­nies with their tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise will be able to play an im­por­tant part in this devel­op­ment,” Philippi adds.

To aid Ger­man com­pa­nies look­ing to set up shop in Sin­ga­pore, the Sin­ga­porean-ger­man Cham­ber of In­dus­try and Com­merce or­gan­ises events like trade shows and mis­sion trips to ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses. In Novem­ber, there will be a ms­sion trip in the field of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

“This Ger­man pro­gramme has been run­ning very suc­cess­fully for 14 years and has en­abled Ger­man com­pa­nies to gain ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. Op­er­at­ing in the field of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, these com­pa­nies ac­tively pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies and sup­port knowhow ex­change.” added Philippi

Ad­di­tion­ally, the SGC also or­gan­ises Sin­ga­pore pav­il­ion in in­ter­na­tional trade show to as­sist Sin­ga­porean SMES to ex­pand their global reach. “One of the lat­est ones was our fourth Sin­ga­pore pav­il­ion at IFA, the lead­ing trade show for Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics & Home Ap­pli­ances, in Berlin, Ger­many. Six com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pated un­der the wing of the Sin­ga­pore pav­il­ion to show case their lat­est in­no­va­tions,” said Philippi.

Over the last ten years, the num­ber of Ger­man com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore has tripled to a 1,600-strong list.

Ger­man com­pa­nies have been ini­ti­at­ing sup­port ser­vices for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of In­dus­trie 4.0 pro­cesses for Sin­ga­porean com­pa­nies.

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