China-ASEAN Expo: A platform for business growth

SBF members discover new opportunities at CAEXPO in Nanning, China

When Mr Francis Ng visited China three years ago to explore the viability of selling his products to the country, he was not sure if he would have enough customers.

Today, the House of Seafood managing director travels regularly to what has become his largest market, selling container-loads each month of his vacuum-packed chilli crab dish to diners in China who want a taste of Singapore in the comfort of their homes.

He cites e-commerce sites such as Taobao for opening doors for him to easily market his products to China. However, he also recalls an important decision he made three years ago to join a Singapore contingent to visit the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

Co-sponsored by China and the 10 ASEAN member states, CAEXPO is an annual trade fair and an important platform to promote economic cooperation between ASEAN and China. Singapore has participated in CAEXPO since its inception in 2004.

Dr Koh Poh Koon touring CAEXPO

The visit got Mr Ng thinking beyond Singapore’s market, where he already owns several seafood restaurants. That was a fateful decision, because with the expansion to China, his business has now scaled 10 to 20 times.

In his visit with SBF to this year’s CAEXPO in September, he not only met with more Chinese suppliers, but also those from Japan and Korea, where he is expanding into.
“Don’t give up after just one visit,” he advised. “You have to think out of the box and have a positive mind when you venture overseas.”

This year, the SBF led a delegation of more than 130 business representative from close to 50 companies and trade associations to the event, which ran from Sept 21 to 24. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was a key focus. SBF promoted Singapore’s strategic role as a regional connector for trade and commerce with the support of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, toured the Singapore pavilions, which featured three flagship Government-to-Government projects; namely the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city project, and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative.

In addition, 16 Singapore companies and brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, education, and health and wellness, also sought business opportunities in China.

“SBF is honoured to lead Singapore’s participation in CAEXPO, which has become an important platform for promoting ASEAN-China economic cooperation. Greater regional connectivity brought about by initiatives such as the BRI will unlock more economic opportunities, spur innovation and drive more sustainable growth across the region,” said SBF Chairman Mr S.S. Teo

He added: “Singapore can play a key role in infrastructure connectivity, financial connectivity, third-party market collaboration, and professional and legal services – all of which we strove to promote at CAEXPO this year. Singapore companies, with their strong expertise in these areas, have much to contribute.”