The SGC was founded in 2004. What is its key focus today?
The SGC counts more than 550 members in Singapore; our membership has been expanding over the years in line with growing activities from German companies in Singapore. Today, there are about 1,850 German companies in Singapore, from almost all industry sectors, with a strong presence in the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, automotive and electronics sectors. As a Chamber, we are engaged in advocacy work, we organize events and seminars, and we support German companies setting foot in Singapore, as well as vice-versa. We organise business delegations, offer market studies, support companies in finding staff and we are engaged in trade fair activities.
How do you think the RCEP adds to the existing FTAs Singapore signed?
RCEP is a comprehensive trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and its five “dialogue” partners; Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. RCEP thus covers two billion people and 30% of global trade. RCEP builds on four existing Free Trade Agreements, namely the ASEAN-China FTA, the ASEAN-Korea FTA, the ASEAN-Japan ECP and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA, and thereby creates one set of trading rules for the region and has the potential to foster supply chain integration across APAC.
Could you give us a brief introduction to the Grün Book and SGC’s plans to establish a Centre of Excellence for Plastics Recycling (PRCOE) in Singapore?
The Grün Book project was initiated by active members of the SGC who saw a potential of German-Singaporean collaboration in the area of recycling, especially in light of Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan and upcoming regulations on the extended producer responsibility.
The publication addresses the importance of plastic recycling in Singapore and covers comprehensive information about the Zero Waste Masterplan. It provides an overview of German recycling capabilities, a case-study on a specific project in international cooperation for a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant, and an extensive listing of more than 400 recycling companies and organizations.
The objective is to establish a Centre of Excellence for Plastics Recycling (PRCOE) in Singapore and a PET bottle-to-bottle recycling plant at its core, with the aim of becoming the regional knowledge hub for plastics recycling. Currently the SGC Sustainability Committee is working on founding an association, the Plastic Recycling Association Singapore (PRAS), which will initiate and put into practice the PET bottle-to-bottle recycling plant that was suggested in the Grün Book.
How has the SGC supported its members during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, we mostly used digital platforms to exercise this role. We managed to organise more than 100 virtual events last year, and amongst others we also organised business delegations virtually for the first time. We made the best out of the situation: For instance, during virtual delegations, the business matchings between German companies and Singaporean entities worked very well in a digital format, allowing each party to meet in a virtual room and get to know potential business partners.
The SGC ran surveys to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on its members. What did you find?
Travel restrictions had a major impact on our members. Singapore represents a regional hub with close ties across the greater region, including ASEAN markets, Australia and New Zealand. Hence, the absence of traveling created barriers for business development in these markets. We very much hope that the situation will become better in time with Covid-19 vaccination programs. Regarding traveling from and to Germany, Germany and Singapore have created a “green lane”, permitting easier traveling between the two nations for business purposes.
What are SGC’s key priorities in the years to come?
Even during the heights of the pandemic, Singapore always stayed open for international trade. The SGC supports the efforts of Singapore to remain an open business location, to promote efforts for workforce qualification and training, as well as its drive in digitalisation and Industry 4.0 initiatives. Singapore is the business center of the ASEAN countries and offers many advantages: It attracts high-tech companies and investments in future oriented technologies, and the country invests in innovative concepts of urbanisation. SGC will continue being a dialogue partner in these developments through its member base and with the offer to be a platform for German and Singapore companies to collaborate and find new business opportunities.