Business

S'pore firms should act on region's huge potential: Dr Koh Poh Koon

There is "enormous potential" across the region waiting to be tapped and Singapore companies should act sooner rather than later, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

To support businesses in their regional ventures, Singapore is working on trade agreements to facilitate the free flow of goods and services in the region as well as working to remove impediments to cross-border investment, he added.

Dr Koh was speaking at the launch of theAsean Teochew Entrepreneur Award, held last Friday at OCBC Centre. The award, given out by clan association Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan aims to honour the achievements of Teochew entrepreneurs in Asean.

Winners from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand will be shortlisted, with an overall winner to be revealed at a gala event here.

Dr Koh said the award presents an excellent platform for local businesses to build ties with their counterparts across the region.

He noted that Asean has grown between 4.5 per cent and 6.1 per cent every year since 2012. The region is expected to continue growing at an average annual rate of 5.2 per cent, with a projected US$3 trillion (S$3.95 trillion) economy and population of more than 600 million by 2020.

"By 2030, Asean could well become the fourth-largest single market in the world," Dr Koh added.

As Asean chairman this year, Singapore will continue "strengthening trade cooperation and advancing integration efforts", he said.

Private sector partners such as trade associations and chambers also have a role to play in helping enterprises expand abroad.

Besides networking functions and business missions, "there is also scope for our private-sector partners to play a bigger role in establishing a culture of intra-industry collaboration and catalyse co-innovation among our businesses", Dr Koh added.

- THE STRAITS TIMES

BUSINESS & FINANCE