By Glenn G. Penarada / Commercial Counsellor, PTIC Singapore


Singapore remains a strong economically for the Philippines. The country is its third source of investment in the world, with a contribution of $156.2 million in the $7.933-billion net foreign direct investments of the Philippines in 2016.


Singapore is also the No. 1 source of investment in the Asean for the Philippines in the same period. Investment pledges from Singapore have been channeled into agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing and construction sectors.


Singapore is also the fourth largest export market of the Philippines with exports amounting to $3.7 billion in 2016. In addition to electronic components, the country imports a variety of Philippine raw ingredients, fresh and processed seafood, and fresh produce, particularly fresh crab, lobster, prawn, banana, pineapple, mango and durian. Other household processed brands from the Philippines are now found in Singapore hotels, ship chandlers and retail stores, such as FairPrice, Giant, Lucky Plaza Mall and Chinatown.


With  a  per-capita  GDP  of $51,162, Singapore is an affluent market in search of premium products. For its more than 5 million residents, 15.5 million annual tourists and the 180,000 Filipinos living in the country, the food service market is strong.


According to Euromonitor, well-priced and quick-serve options from street stalls and kiosks and home delivery or takeaway services are in high demand because of busy lifestyles. A government initiative for healthy dining has also affected the market, with consumers preferring natural and fresh products. Aside from this, Singapore also has ship-handling operations and is a trading hub for third markets for investors.


Naturally, one of the best prospects for Philippine business in Singapore lies in the food industry. Apart from the fresh produce, there is a demand for the wide spectrum of halal-certified foods, from cereals to baked goods, ice cream to noodles, oils to condiments and more.


Other priority export opportunities include engineering and architecture services, where Philippine talent and resources, including the 62,000 information-technology-enabled and English-proficient graduates that join the work force each year, are tapped for core research and product development purposes, procurement procedures and even critical construction projects.


Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services are also in demand.  Seventy-five Filipino MRO companies, which specialize in airframe heavy maintenance, engine and APU main tenance, component or systems maintenance, repair services and aircraft interiors MRO, already provide support to Singapore’s growing aerospace industry.


Franchising is notably robust, especially for Filipinos, who have been identified as the second largest pool of professionally certified franchising executives in the world, next to the US.


In Singapore local brands, such as Jollibee, Yellow Cab, Tapa King, Gerry’s Grill, Bench and LBC Express, have opened branches, while companies, such as Ayala Corp., Megaworld, BDO Unibank, Philippine Airlines, PLDT and Manila Electric Co., also have presence.


The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, and Investment Centre (PTIC) in Singapore, promotes the entrepreneurial alliance between Singapore and the Philippines. With the goal of tuning more Filipinos toward entrepreneurship in order to spur wealth and economic growth, the agency creates the best environment for Filipino businesses to become competitive, sustainable and profitable. Its activities include organizing missions in trade fairs to establish partnerships between local businesses and Singapore-based companies.


The PTIC also engages in promotional activities, such as connecting Filipino businesses with Singaporean buyers and importers in major trade fairs, such as the Manila FAME and International Food Exhibition (Ifex) Philippines. The agency has also organized trips to the Philippines for Singapore companies seeking to diversify their fruit and vegetable offerings and conducted Filipino food-tasting events for the Singapore press.


The PTIC also helps Filipino start-up companies find partners in Singapore and in the country. The agency, through the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau, has, for example, introduced the Singapore-based Cebuano founders of GeoPik (a new app that shortens long addresses into code for easy delivery of goods) to potential venture-capital firms and users in the Philippines. Local entrepreneurs can also seek assistance from the QBO Innovation Hub, a cowork space in the DTI International Building in Makati. The hub offers start-ups and innovators opportunities for market access and capital and mentorship.


In Manila Filipino business- men who would like to explore opportunities in Singapore can contact the coordinating office of the DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) in the DTI headquarters, as well as the Negosyo Centers across the country. These offices offer information, training, credit facilities, networks and other forms of assistance. The Negosyo Centers, in particular, provide support ser vices, such as business registration assistance, advisory services, monitoring and evaluation, which are needed to encourage the development of micro, small and medium enterprises.


Outside the Philippines, Filipinos can also connect with PTIC agencies of the DTI- FTSC for trade preferences, commercial intelligence and introduction to importers and buyers. The DTI-FTSC has a network of 26 Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in major international markets, including Singapore.


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