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Well connected to the world

Oct 26, 2017
Credit : GMI Post

Located at the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore is an ideal global connectivity hub. Despite its small size, the island-state is closely wired to its neighbors and the rest of the world because of the level of its technological development.

To make up for its limited natural resources, the city-state capitalizes on a new kind of asset – data. Singapore’s early adoption of digitalization and its proven speed to adapt have made it a more attractive location to do business. Already praised for its top-rate logistics infrastructure, the country is now building further on its digital connectivity.

“Singapore’s strategic location, strong infrastructure, business-friendly policies and expertise, and reputation for integrity and efficiency have enabled the country to develop itself as a regional business and trade hub and to position itself well to seize the opportunities that come with the rise of Asia,” said United Overseas Bank CEO Wee Ee Cheong.

“ASEAN’s favorable fundamentals are attractive to those seeking new opportunities. Of course, the journey of connectivity and integration is not always smooth. But through continued engagement and a practical and paced approach, the collective potential of the region can be realized,” he added.

In partnership with the Economic Development Board and International Enterprise Singapore, UOB helps foreign companies seeking to set up their operations in Singapore and in expanding across the region.

“We extended our Foreign Direct Investment Advisory Team to nine markets and thus provided important links across the region. The teams have helped customers understand market entry strategies, industry dynamics and how to navigate the complexities of doing business in ASEAN,” Wee explained. 

Immigration solutions and visa consultancy company, One Visa, is one key player in helping connect foreign companies and talented individuals to Singapore. Established in 2010, One Visa has grown significantly to become a leading immigration service provider in Singapore.

“One Visa is one of only a few visa consultancy companies that have the capability to advise and offer the full spectrum of immigration services in Singapore. We have been very focused on knowing where we can move people, while consistently adding new value and excellence to our clients’ experience,” said Founder and Managing Director Cheng King Heng.

“After years of experience managing Western clients, it’s our very boutique style of service that sets us apart from our competitors. We can make their next move effortless,” Cheng added.

One Visa plans to establish further globally and is looking at new partnerships with migration agents in the US and Canada.

For commodities trading company Rhodium Resources Pte. Ltd., being located in Singapore may have been more important that just understanding Asia and navigating the market.

“Few financial centers in the world have an understanding of commodity trade and finance. Finance is our specialty. But in Singapore, where we do not have alternatives or the luxury of a base resource, we tend to be a trading hub,” said Director Cheam Hing Lee

“We are a unique commodities trading company that leverages lots of financial institutions. We are big enough to borrow and buy assets or have joint venture partners who recognize our credibility,” Cheam added.

Global port operator PSA International provides value by staying competitive, preparing their people’s capabilities and transforming well in tandem with the shipping and logistics industries’ ever-growing interconnectivity.

“Our business is facility-driven and capacity-driven. So when we have new facilities, we enable new connectivity. And if there is good industrialization, if the country also builds the right infrastructure, we will have a successful outcome. Over time, that has given us a very steady rate of growth,” said Group CEO Tan Chong Meng.

While Singapore’s Changi Airport is consistently named one of the best airports in the world, it has also remained an important air cargo hub in the region. With connections to more than 380 cities around the world, Changi plays an important role in global trade and tourism.

“We are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to create an unparalleled Changi Experience for our passengers. We invest and innovate to differentiate Changi Airport,” Senior Vice President Ivan Tan said.

At the end of this year, Changi Airport is expected to open its new Terminal 4, which will add another 16mppa to Changi’s capacity. Changi’s current capacity is 66 mppa, and with T4, Changi’s total handling capacity will be 82 mppa.

UOB connects businesses to opportunities in Asia

Oct 26, 2017
Credit : GMI Post

With the rise of intra and inter-regional trade in Asia, United Overseas Bank (UOB) is well positioned to connect businesses to opportunities in Asia.

Created in 1935 to serve the needs of the overseas Chinese merchant community in Singapore, UOB has expanded its presence across Asia in line with the regional growth ambitions of its clients. Today, UOB is one of the world’s strongest banks and has an integrated network across 19 countries and territories, from which it helps clients to identify and to seize opportunities.

Over the last eight decades, the bank’s experience and local presence have given it a firsthand understanding of what it takes to build a sustainable business in the region.

In 2011, UOB set up a dedicated unit to help businesses plan and execute their regional expansion strategies. Its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Advisory team was initially based in Singapore. It has since been building an ecosystem of partners able to support its clients, including government agencies, trade and investment associations and professional services providers such as legal, audit and accounting firms across the region.

UOB Plaza: the headquarters of Singapore banking giant United Overseas Bank

The unit has now expanded to include FDI Centres in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Vietnam and India. In 2015, the bank also received approval to offer its regional FDI advisory services to Japanese companies venturing out of their home country.

As part of helping companies navigate the complexities of the diverse operating environments in Asia, UOB has signed strategic partnerships with key government agencies, including the Singapore Economic Development Board, International Enterprise Singapore, the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board and China’s leading trade organization, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

These partnerships have been integral to providing companies with practical guidance on how to set up and to run their local operations successfully.

Since 2011, UOB has engaged and supported more than 2,000 companies from around the world in their expansion into and across Asia. While 82 percent of these companies are homegrown in Asia, UOB has observed an increasing number of companies from the United States and Europe seeking its FDI Advisory services.

Last year alone, the UOB’s FDI Centres facilitated more than S$27 billion of business flows into Southeast Asia as companies invested in the region’s fast-moving consumer goods, natural resources and building and construction industries.

More than 40 percent of these business flows were directed through Singapore, reinforcing the nation’s strategic importance as an international business center and launchpad to the region.

Keeping commodity trading relevant

Oct 26, 2017
Credit : GMI Post

When Cheam Hing Lee retired from the banking world after more than 12 years, he took with him valuable experience in finance and commodities, as well as the confidence to start his own company. In just five years, Rhodium Resources Pte. Ltd. has grown from a small enterprise into a billion dollar multinational.

Rhodium Resources CEO and Managing Director Cheam Hing Lee

Cheam attributes Rhodium’s success to preemptive insight that allows them to anticipate and avoid devastating setbacks and to their aptitude to innovate that prioritizes the needs of customers and capitalizes on Singapore’s financial trade structure.

“We understand Asia. We are able to manage local issues professionally in a transnational and legitimate manner, so that we become a valuable supplier to other multinationals that want that same standard when they buy from us,” the CEO and Managing Director explained.

Cheam pointed out that few financial centres in the world fully understand commodity trade and considered trade finance a specialty. In effect, Rhodium acts like a financial institution that finds unused links within the traditional supply chain.

“We make many things irrelevant; but only do relevant business,” he said.

In the future, Cheam is thinking of taking Rhodium public. The company chief also expressed his wish to explore more opportunities in the United States in infrastructure and double Rhodium’s business.

Rhodium has offices in Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai and London and has a partnership with American global asset management firm Oaktree.

Singapore 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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