As with any overseas trade venture, the first step for UK businesses wishing to export to Singapore is to research the market sector and companies they intend to contact.
This is straightforward and the partnership between Chamber International and the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore (BCCS) creates a natural starting point.
Singapore has high Internet use and a lot of additional data is easily accessible on government and corporate websites. Also, and again with help from BCCS, businesses should plan their visit and organise appointments before leaving the UK. On arrival, it is also recommended that visiting business people should make follow-up calls to confirm availability.
It is also highly recommended that Chamber International clients visiting Singapore should arrange a market discussion with the Business Services Team at the BCCS or the relevant senior trade & investment officer at the High Commission.
In Singapore, the route to market varies across different sectors and the opportunities for direct selling, an informal agency agreement or a formal one will depend on the circumstances and you should be sure to take advice on this as part of your research.
In general, direct selling is recommended where there are only a few potential customers but a formal agency agreement is best where an agent will represent your service or product.
In some market sectors there are clear benefits with using an agent or distributor. Singapore has a wide range of capable agents, representatives and potential partners who have the expertise and contacts to access local and regional markets.
Spend some time researching which agents are most suitable for your products or services as getting the right local partner is crucial to success in Singapore.
Singapore offers a range of serviced and, through BCCS, virtual offices, conference or meeting rooms, video conferencing and administrative secretarial support can be accessed to meet all business needs including ready-to-use executive office workspace in the Central Business District (CBD).
There are a number of incubators around Singapore supported by government grants, universities or private investment funds. The incubator will usually provide companies with office space, utilities, shared office equipment, in return for an ownership stake in the company.
UK businesses must not expect to do businesses immediately, or necessarily even on their first visit to Singapore, but should prepare for the long term as the country is also the gateway to markets in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and China.