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Singapore: UOB steps up efforts to aid cross-border business

Forecast to be the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050, Southeast Asia presents a compelling proposition for Singapore business and UOB steps in to help

|Feb 24|magazine7 min read

Singapore-based multinational bank UOB is stepping up its efforts to help more Singapore companies seize cross-border business opportunities in southeast Asia’s US$3 trillion economy. 

The Bank, regarded as one of the best SME banks across Asia-Pacific, has joined forces with Singapore Business Federation (SBF) as the financial partner of the [email protected] Strategic Partnerships initiative, to facilitate Singapore businesses making in-roads into the ASEAN region. 

The collaboration combines the strengths of both institutions in connecting Singapore businesses, including more than 27,000 SBF members, to opportunities opening up across ASEAN, especially in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Southeast Asia compelling proposition

The ASEAN region presents a compelling proposition for businesses looking to grow, with it projected to be the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050. Trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, are also expected to boost the region's growth.

As Singapore businesses emerge from the worst of the pandemic, they are setting their sights on new growth and expansion opportunities, and the ASEAN region offers "one of the most compelling opportunities for expansion, with its fast-growing economy and vast potential," says UOB’s CEO
Wee Ee Cheong. 

With an extensive network and strong presence in ASEAN, UOB has “long recognised the region’s long-term strengths and uniqueness with its diverse economic landscape,” says Cheong, pointing to the fact that UOB’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Advisory Unit, set up in 2011, has helped more than 3,500 companies expand their operations across the region. 

Getting a foot in the ASEAN door

According to the UOB SME Outlook 2021 Study, the lack of local market knowledge and difficulty in finding the right partners were the top two barriers Singapore companies faced when venturing overseas. 

UOB's FDI Advisory Unit helps companies with their market entry by providing deep in-market insights and access to the Bank's partner ecosystem comprising regional government agencies, trade and business associations. Such insights and access are essential to companies navigating their overseas expansion. 

And now through the collective efforts of the bank with SBF, businesses will “be able to better navigate the business landscape in the respective markets, develop local networks, and access greater trade and investment opportunities”, says Darius Lim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of SBF

Through UOB's FDI Centres located across the region and SBF's Singapore Enterprise Centres, companies will benefit from the on-ground assistance provided by both organisations. UOB will also provide financial support and help businesses in their digitalisation journey, accelerating their adoption of technology by providing its comprehensive suite of digital solutions.

In addition, both organisations will share information and resources with Singapore companies via webinars to help them learn more about ASEAN's diverse operating environments and to identify business opportunities.

UOB's ASEAN SME Transformation 2020 report
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