ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore firms among world’s most pessimistic, reveals survey

Most companies expect lower selling prices.

Singapore-based companies are among the most downbeat globally in terms of overall business outlook for 2016, according to the latest International Business Report by Grant Thornton.

The report showed that Singapore ranks among the bottom ten when it comes to economic outlook optimism, with a net -16% of firms bullish on their growth prospects. Only South Africa and Greece were more pessimistic than Singapore, at -24% and -50%, respectively.

Singapore firms are also the most pessimistic when it comes to inflation expectations. A net -30% of firms in the city-state expect to increase selling prices this year, the lowest proportion in the list. In contrast, majority of firms in neighboring countries India, the Philippines and Indonesia are expecting to increase selling prices this year.

The report noted that worldwide concern about a lack of skilled workers has risen over the fourth quarter, particularly in Asia Pacific. Businesses in Japan are the most concerned about a lack of skilled workers (62%), while a high balance of firms in Singapore (46%) and China (36%) also cited the shortage as a major constraint. 

Despite domestic pessimism, business optimism across the Asia Pacific region has increased from 20% to 31% in Q4, and is higher than the 27% recorded in the same period last year.

“Despite the predicted moderate growth, Singapore is still well positioned to retain its strength in the region this year. Those businesses with an instinct for growth will be best placed to spot the emerging pockets of opportunity, build new trade links, and make the most of the brighter outlook being reported for 2016,” said Peter Allen, CEO at Grant Thornton Singapore. 

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