MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Over half of SMEs uninterested in expanding overseas

Four in ten said they don't have funds to do so.

Almost half of Singaporean small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have no interest in internationalising and taking their business beyond Singapore in the near future, global insurer QBE revealed.

According to a survey of SME bosses, 45% said that they will not explore expansion across borders – a figure which rises to 56% for smaller SMEs. Just 14% indicated their intention to internationalise.

Of SMEs currently operating only in Singapore with no intention to internationalise, 42% said they were worried they did not have sufficient funds to expand overseas, whilst 38% cited unfamiliarity with the standards and processes of foreign markets as a concern.

Other concerns include the level of competition in other markets, regulatory, and legal compliance, and political instability.

Another possible reason is the improving perception of the economy in Singapore, driving belief that sufficient growth can be attained locally. Half of respondents feel the economy will improve in the next 12 months, whilst just 24% feel it will become worse.

Whilst local SMEs may not yet feel ready to capitalise on growth prospects in new markets, 44% are expecting an increase in sales in the next 12 months, an improvement on the 40% of companies that said sales increased in the previous year.

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