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International expansion key to business growth, according to Singapore SMEs

Zafirah Salim | Dec. 21, 2015
Besides a perceived lack of advice and support, Singaporean SMEs cited other factors such as worries about potential costs and not getting paid as the main barriers to exporting internationally.

Singapore SMEs see international markets as key to their growth plans, with 71 percent of respondents claiming that they are more likely to forecast growth revenue from international exports than from domestic business in the next five years, according to a study commissioned by FedEx Express.

Polling 6,891 senior executives in SMEs across 13 markets, including Singapore, the study aims to provide insights into global import and export behaviour among SMEs and the challenges they face.

The study revealed that less than half (41 percent) of Singapore SMEs export to other markets. However, 67 percent of them also believe that they will generate international revenue in five years' time. Respondents also said that they view Central and South Asia as the regions with the greatest export potential, followed by Europe and the Middle East.

The study's figures highlights the significant revenue opportunities that exist across Asia Pacific for Singaporean SMEs, with the survey revealing that the country's SMEs generate an average of US$1.3 million per year from exports, lower than Hong Kong and Taiwan whose SME segments generate US$2.6 million and US$2.8 million respectively.

Despite this, many SMEs are still hesitant about targeting overseas markets. In fact, Singaporean SMEs reported that they need more help in order to be more successful internationally. In line with this, only 14 percent of SMEs polled felt that they did not need any further support in order to expand and thrive on the international stage.

"Small businesses are a crucial part of the Singaporean economy, and this study illustrates how they can take the opportunity to reach markets beyond their own borders," said Kevin O'Hearn, regional vice president of South Pacific, FedEx Express. "Reinforcing the support they need will help enable SME's to maximize the gains of venturing into overseas markets."

Alongside a perceived lack of advice and support, Singaporean SMEs also cited other factors such as worries about potential costs (25 percent) and not getting paid (23 percent) as the main barriers to exporting internationally.

Logistics play a vital role in tackling this confidence gap. SMEs in Singapore ranked logistics providers as their top source of expertise on exporting, and SMEs in five out of six APAC markets rank logistics providers among their top sources. According to FedEx, a reliable logistics service provider plays an important role in connecting SMEs with overseas opportunities and shaping the experience that SMEs provide to their customers.


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