30 May 2022

Singapore leads as international business hub: HSBC study

According to HSBC’s latest business survey HSBC Navigator: SEA in Focus, 9 in 10 (89%) foreign companies with a foothold in Southeast Asia plan to grow their presence in the region over the next two years. 3 in 5 (61%) expect organic growth of 20% or more over the next 12 months.

Singapore continues to be the preferred gateway into the region among international companies, according to the survey, which found that 39% of foreign firms with operations already in Singapore will prioritise further growth in the Republic over the next 2 years.

Additionally, Singapore is the most attractive market in Southeast Asia for international firms looking to test new technologies and products.

Singapore’s ability to manage the Covid-19 pandemic has supported its standing amongst international firms, with some 42% of respondents stating their belief in Singapore’s effective endemic management – more than 50% higher than the country in second place (Thailand, 27%).

The survey sought the views of more than 1,500 companies from six of the world’s largest economies – China, France, Germany, India, the UK and the US – with all of them having operations in Southeast Asia.

Testbed for technology investment

International companies ranked Singapore as the most ideal Southeast Asian market to test new technologies and products, with 88% saying that they were ‘likely’ to do so in this market. 49% went so far as to say they were ‘very likely’.

Singapore ranked highest across all 14 areas of digital technology surveyed. International businesses placed their highest confidence in Singapore’s leadership within IOT, with some 35% stating they considered it the leader in this sector. Malaysia and Thailand were the second most likely to be considered as IOT leaders; for each country, only 10% of respondents stated they believed either country to be a leader.

Regina Lee, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Singapore: “Singapore’s mix of talent, technology and globally renowned frameworks are sustaining its position as the go-to market for international firms accessing Southeast Asia. While the Republic draws the companies of the future who are looking to scale digitally and in a sustainable manner into Southeast Asia, it also remains a top spot for traditional firms transitioning at pace to meet the demands of the Asian consumers.”

Local firms an untapped sustainability resource

International companies are looking to Singapore’s local businesses to support their sustainability ambitions. Presented with a list of 10 potential sustainability related actions to prioritise over the next 12 months, companies with operations in Singapore were most likely to indicate that they would be focusing on using partners more local to their business, with some 43% of firms indicating they would be doing this.

However, on the regulatory front foreign companies foresee regulatory commitments in regard to sustainability as a challenge. 29% of firms worried that the impact of new regulations and rules on carbon reduction could challenge their business.

Ms. Lee continued: “For international companies prioritising their sustainability ambitions in Southeast Asia, Singapore’s local partners are an untapped resource. The country’s innovation-first mindset and investment in sustainability has resulted in a base of homegrown sustainability-focused firms across services and manufacturing.”

Media Contacts:

Lucy Stewart, HSBC Singapore | +65 9389 1622 | Lucy.stewart@hsbc.com.sg

Note to editors:

About The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited is the founding member of the HSBC Group. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of $3.0tn at 31 December 2021, HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world.