A Landmark Gathering For Business

The inaugural Singapore Apex Business Summit was among the first MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) events to be held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic

Organised by SBF and MP Singapore, the Singapore Apex Business Summit (SABS) was held virtually via an online platform and onsite at Marina Bay Sands, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore from 22 to 25 March 2022. The Summit incorporated five key signature conferences over four days – the Singapore Regional Business Forum (SRBF®), the ASEAN Conference, the Future Economy Conference & Exhibition, the TAC Symposium and the FTA Day, under the overarching theme of “Accelerating Business Transformation in an Endemic World”.

More than 4,000 business leaders and senior government officials from 60 countries and economies, representing close to 1,400 organisations attended the Summit, which received strong support from 16 sponsor partners and 54 supporting organisations, including 13 government agencies and 39 local and foreign trade associations and chambers.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises benefited from discussions on trending business topics and participated in business matching and networking sessions to forge collaborations. Many of the sessions focused on key trends impacting the business community, most notably, digitalisation and sustainability.

“The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging for businesses. Through SABS, SBF aims to help companies achieve resilience and further accelerate their growth. Singapore is an attractive business hub for global businesses, and the Summit shows that we are open and ready for business,” said SBF Chairman Mr Lim Ming Yan.

Fostering Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

The global pandemic has dramatically impacted businesses and economies around the world. While it draws attention to public health issues, COVID-19 has also surfaced a plethora of possibilities for business transformation, and adoption of sustainable and innovative business models for a more inclusive growth. Against this background, the inaugural SABS kicked off with SBF’s flagship event, the SRBF®, with the theme of “Re-imagining Sustainability in Business” to explore the essential public and private sector components under the Green Economy, and discuss how businesses can foster sustainable and inclusive growth.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat graced the event as the Guest-of-Honour. Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong joined the Forum as the Special Guest Speaker. Other 30 over business leaders, policy makers and subject matter experts from different countries with diversified industry backgrounds, including CEO of Lazada Group Mr Chun Li, shared their insights with the SABS audience on a wide range of topics, including ‘Re-imagining Sustainability in Business’, ‘Sustainable Supply Chain Management’, ‘Green Financing and the Roles of Financial Institutions’, and more.

Re-envisioning for Tomorrow’s Cities, Industries & Consumers – A Paradigm Shift in ASEAN

The SBF SME Internationalisation Index published in December 2021 showed 82% of the survey companies are engaged in ASEAN. 68% of the companies indicated ASEAN as the main focus region for expansion within the next 3 years. At the ASEAN Conference, which is into its 6th edition, participants were given insights into how the pandemic has accelerated wide-ranging changes in ASEAN’s cities, industries, consumers preferences, and the emerging opportunities across this dynamic region.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong spoke at the In Conversation session moderated by SBF CEO Mr Lam Yi Young, highlighting that Singapore plays a very important role in digitalisation integration initiatives in ASEAN, and Singapore is keen to work with fellow ASEAN members to strengthen digitalisation in the region. He also spoke about how Singapore is hopeful that more countries will come on board green economy agreements, which will allow countries to forge ahead with decarbonisation projects.

Transforming through Digitalisation

Following the acceleration of digitalisation due to the pandemic, this year’s Future Economy Conference & Exhibition (FECE) is fittingly themed- “Recharging Businesses – Powering Enterprise Transformation through Digitalisation”. The conference was attended by close to 600 participants, from organisations such as SMEs, MNCs, government agencies, and trade associations and chambers (TACs).

“We cannot overstate the importance of digitalisation for businesses, not just to cope with COVID-19, but for future growth as well,” said SBF CEO Mr Lam Yi Young in his welcome remarks at the FECE. He added that SBF will work closely with other TACs to drive the adoption of digital solutions and encourage human capital development and workforce upskilling.

In her speech at the FECE, Minister for Communications and Information Mrs Josephine Teo, assured businesses that the government will help them maximise new opportunities in the digital economy. The FECE featured lively discussions among business leaders from the built environment and technology sectors on how companies can better invest in the capabilities of their workforce. Panellists also shared how digitalisation had helped their companies to venture into new business opportunities locally and regionally.

Supporting Businesses

SBF held the inaugural TAC Symposium as part of SABS this year. The Symposium saw good turnout by about 300 participants from more than 70 TACs, coming together to build a stronger business ecosystem and economy for Singapore. This includes working together as a “One TAC community” to tap on and build on each other’s strengths, so that TACs continue to be effective advocates and bridges between businesses and the Government.

Under the theme, “Re-imagining Collaborations for Industry Transformation”, the Symposium focused on three key topics– Sustainability, Digitalisation and Human Capital Development. The Symposium included presentations by knowledge experts as well as a panel discussion by representatives from local chambers and foreign chambers of commerce, industry partners and the Government.

In the fireside chat moderated by President of Singapore Hotel Association, Ms Kwee Wei-Lin,
Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Culture, Community and Youth Ms Low Yen Ling emphasised the key role that TACs had played in industry development and for championing the needs of industry while amplifying the messages from government. She also highlighted the importance for TACs to continue driving industry transformation and upgrading its internal capabilities. Going forward, TACs should collaborate with each other to scale up its efforts and capture opportunities in a post-pandemic world.

Enhancing Business Resilience and Sustainability

Participants at the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Day learnt how they could benefit from Singapore’s extensive network of FTAs and Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs).

Into its 3rd edition, the event featured a keynote address and In Conversation with Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran, moderated by News Anchor, Journalist and Senior Producer of MediaCorp Ms Dawn Tan. Minister Iswaran shared that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) provide resilience in a time when supply chains face disruption from geopolitical tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic. FTAs also underpin the government’s Trade 2020 strategy by enhancing Singapore’s trade connectivity and standing as a global trading hub.

The event featured panel discussions that delved into developments in mega-regional agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as growing opportunities for Singapore businesses by leveraging on DEAs. Sustainability was also a key topic highlighted by speakers as an area of emerging growth.

SBF would like to thank all participants, speakers and supporting organisations for their whole-hearted support for the inaugural Singapore Apex Business Summit and helping to make the event a fruitful one for everyone involved.