Singapore

EDB appoints 3 more economic ambassadors

German and Austrian businessmen to help countrymen venture into market here

The Economic Development Board (EDB) has appointed three business leaders from Germany and Austria to coax their countrymen into investing more in Singapore.

Called economic ambassadors, they will share their extensive experience in Asia with their countries' small and medium-sized enterprises - known as Mittelstand - and encourage them to develop their businesses in Singapore, which can also be their springboard for expansion into the region.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented two of them with certificates of appointment at a ceremony at the Charles Hotel in Munich yesterday.

The new ambassadors are: Dr Heinz-Juergen Bertram, chief executive of fragrance and flavours manufacturer Symrise; Dr Roland Gerner, senior adviser to technology group Heraeus; and Dr Erich Erber, founder of Austrian food and feed safety group Erber. Dr Erber was unable to attend the ceremony.

Singapore now has nine such ambassadors in Germany and Austria.

EDB managing director Yeoh Keat Chuan said the three men, whose companies have been in Singapore for more than 20 years, are highly respected in the Mittelstand community, which relies on personal recommendations.

"They are sought after for their experience in building successful businesses in Asia, having directly led the development and execution of Asian business strategies for their companies," he added.

The programme was launched by the EDB in 2015, specially for German-speaking countries with Mittelstand. It is to create what Mr Yeoh called a trusted "Asia Insider" network that medium-sized companies can tap into to expand into Asia.

It started with four ambassadors, and two more were added to the network last year.

Each businessman is appointed for three years.

In the past two years, they have reached out to more than 900 "Mittelstand champions", which are medium-sized companies but world market leaders in their respective businesses.

They did so by speaking at major conferences and giving media interviews and one-on-one consultation to business owners.

Mr Yeoh said more will be appointed to reach out to more regions and different industries.

The newcomers will woo Mittelstand in the Hamburg region and upper and lower Austria, among others.

Singapore already has more than 3,000 companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Dr Bertram said Singapore is a "natural entry place if you want to go to Asia".

Mr Yeoh also highlighted an EDB programme that gives scholarships to polytechnic students to study at the University of Applied Sciences in Germany while working at a Mittelstand company.

At some point, the EDB will track how many Mittelstand companies have operations in Singapore and how they are growing, Mr Yeoh said.

"It is still relatively early days but, so far, our efforts look encouraging and promising and we think there is exciting potential," he said.

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