The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) recently held a poll in which over 82 per cent of Singapore businesses said their main concern at the moment is to achieve revenue growth. Out of 972 respondents, about 95 per cent consisted of SMEs.
These concerns have arisen as a result of the sluggishness of the economy caused by the prolonged US-China trade war. The current global developments have led these SMEs to prioritise revenue growth ahead of product innovation, talent retention and digitalisation.
Many of said respondents have also stated that they are preparing to take a hit to profit margins should the abysmal state of the market continues. Most said that they are expecting to see a decline in margins this year as well.
Singapore-listed firms saw more hits than misses, while Singapore cut its official growth forecast for the second quarter to almost zero, on a flat economic performance in the first quarter. All of this only reinforces Singaporean businesses’ desperation for a solution.
As such, Some chamber and association leaders say they are doing more to help companies grow their revenue but are also hoping that the government will lend its weight if the downturn persists. The group’s president, Roland Ng, said that the chamber is encouraging firms to go overseas and set up offices in cities such as Shanghai and Chengdu to help businesses break into the Chinese market.
According to Mr Ng, the chamber is working with the government to find other strategies that could assist local SMEs and tap government support-schemes in order to upgrade themselves.
The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) is taking a similar stance, putting more focus on internationalisation and making more prominent attempts to support its members. ASME is organising more overseas studies and missions, and setting up “node points” abroad to help companies.
Despite this, both the SCCCI and ASME are hoping that the government will step in to lend a hand should the dismal situation regarding growth conditions worsen.
“Should economic prospects remain uncertain or if there is a protracted downturn in the global economy, I also hope the government is prepared to offer businesses timely and effective help,” said Ng.
“We can start looking at the situation now. We haven’t hit the point yet but we’re pretty close. I think it’s time to start preparing,” said Ang Yuit, the ASME’s vice-president of membership and training.