Is America still open to do business with Singapore SMEs?

By Lim Tze Hsien

The current US administration’s desire to limit foreign imports through protectionist measures has drawn much concern from Singapore businesses, with many asking us if the US is still open for business. Our answer? A resounding YES.

Despite this sentiment, the United States is still either one of the most important - or the most important - trading partner for Asian countries. This is especially true for Singapore as the US has historically been and will continue to be a key trading partner for categories such as Electronics and Machines, Scientific Instruments, and Chemical Products. Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would do well to take notice of the opportunities that the US presents. 

With logistics know-how, companies who are looking to expand their business reach will greatly improve their customer reach and experience.

Recent changes that make it easier for Singapore SMEs to export to US
In early 2016, a provision was signed to raise the de minimis level on international shipments into the US from US$200 (S$270) per shipment to US$800 (S$1100). This means that if your exported goods fall under the threshold, it can pass through customs without needing to understand complex customs procedures, additional costs and extra paperwork. This is particularly relevant for e-commerce players and retailers that have relatively small volume shipments, giving them a larger window of opportunity to trade goods that fall within this range.

Additionally, whilst America’s 50 states have differing legal and tax codes, the country as a whole recently implemented what’s referred to as a “Single Window”. This harmonised, centralised electronic system allows you to provide the necessary paperwork via a single online tool. Officially known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), this system makes shipping to the United States simpler, faster, more efficient and most importantly, cheaper.

For the 46% of Singapore companies that cite unclear rules and regulations as the main obstacle to their international expansion, these recent developments are game-changers that make it a breeze to export to the US.

Regional differences between US states offer SMEs numerous trade opportunities
Understanding the variation between US states – and which products are in demand and where – is also important when considering how your goods might fit into the marketplace. This is especially crucial given that 40% of Singapore businesses lack sufficient knowledge of foreign markets when expanding internationally. 

For instance, the US still has one of the world’s strongest industrial sectors. In fact, since the global recession of 2008, manufacturing has been one of the biggest contributors to the United States’ recovery. This is bringing prosperity to states in the Midwest and South, the country’s manufacturing heartland. 

Whether it is providing components for tech products assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, machinery for factories in the Midwest, or geological tools for oil-rich states like Texas, Singapore SMEs should consider the broad range of opportunities that exist in the US beyond consumer goods industries. 

Know before you go
So how can you make sure your business doesn’t miss out on the action and what do you need to know to avoid costly mistakes? Before exporting to the US, there are some clear steps and procedures that you need to follow. 

When deciding how to price your products for sale in the US market, it’s smart to first determine how much it will cost to get them there – from choosing a shipping solution that meets your cost and speed requirements, to knowing how your goods will be taxed when crossing the border. 

Additionally, you’ll need to complete all pre-shipment documents and confirm whether you require a license to send goods abroad; this may be necessary when shipping products such as chemicals or medical supplies. 

Good customer service doesn’t stop after the shipment leaves your warehouse. That’s when strong after-sales service kicks in. Once a package is on its way, update your customers on its progress and whereabouts as these are important to your customers.

Even after your customer has received their shipment, what happens if they need to return it? An efficient and cost-effective returns option makes all the difference, and really helps to drive sales in the long run.

As you can see, America is most definitely open for business. Moreover, the initiatives of recent years have only simplified things even further, making it easier to grow your business in the United States. Optimising your supply chain and making your company’s logistics operations more competitive will make serving customers in the US even easier. With a bit of due diligence and a clear understanding of the market and its procedures, accessing the US market and its diverse opportunities can be relatively straightforward for SMEs.

Join Singapore Business Review community
Since you're here...

...there are many ways you can work with us to advertise your company and connect to your customers. Our team can help you dight and create an advertising campaign, in print and digital, on this website and in print magazine.

We can also organize a real life or digital event for you and find thought leader speakers as well as industry leaders, who could be your potential partners, to join the event. We also run some awards programmes which give you an opportunity to be recognized for your achievements during the year and you can join this as a participant or a sponsor.

Let us help you drive your business forward with a good partnership!

ARA LOGOS is currently on the 13th spot.
Meanwhile, the demand for petrochemical exports benefitted from this same crisis.
This is expected to speed up the electronic exchange of trade documents.
This is in support of achieving Absolute Zero Carbon by 2040.
Adults will only shop if goods are discounted by at least 48%, survey says.   About 54% of 1,001 Singaporean adults have plans to shop during the Black Friday sales but only if prices of goods are discounted by at least 48%, a survey from Finder.com showed.
This move is in line with its goal to accelerate recommerce growth in SEA.
The notes were released under its $3m Multicurrency Medium Term Note Programme.
Singtel showed the most growth.
Re-exports also saw an increase of 16.4% in the same month.
The marine company apologised to its workers at the dorm.
SG electricity demand peaked at 7,667MW in October 2021.
The two aim to accelerate the progression of AI.
It will focus on sustainable opportunities for companies in Singapore.
Cargo load factor, however, was down by 1.6% YoY to 97.3%.
Despite this, KF pegs their estimated total sales for the year at 13,000 units.