Francisco Rios
Cargo Regional Group Director
Enterprise Singapore
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A New Perspective of the Asian Market: Mexico, Singapore

By Sofía Hanna | Fri, 01/08/2021 - 13:48

Q: Why would Singapore be the ideal partner for investments and partnerships in Mexico and the Latin American region in general?

A: Enterprise Singapore is an agency within the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore with the goal of helping Singaporean companies grow, develop and internationalize in the best way possible. We have 35 offices worldwide; two of which are in Latin America, one in Brazil and the other in Mexico. I am in charge of the entire Latin American region. The help we provide can be divided in two: financial assistance in the shape of grants, loans, tax incentives and seed capital, exclusively for Singapore companies, and non-financial assistance by helping companies to grow their capabilities, find relevant partnerships and expand their market. This is available to both Singaporean and foreign companies.

Singapore has become an interesting location in terms of technology, innovation, financing and distribution for Southeast Asia. For Mexico, several interesting factors make Singapore an ideal partner, beginning with the fact that Singapore could be seen as an entry point to Southeast Asian markets. Similarly, Mexico is seen as a key path to Latin America, so we are talking about a relationship between two countries that could bring regional benefits, which exponentially increases the opportunities for entrepreneurs, companies and the countries themselves.

Q: How could Mexico become more attractive for the Southeast Asian market?

A: Mexico represents one of the two strongest economies of the region. Production costs are highly competitive and there has been an opening toward foreign products and technological developments. The country is also key to expanding into the North and South American regions. Companies that have shown interest in expanding to Mexico also have plans to connect with countries from the Pacific Alliance – Chile, Colombia, Peru – and the US. These companies have very similar interests to those investing in Vietnam, where the focus is on manufacturing and targeting other markets in the region.

Q: How can Mexican companies approach Enterprise Singapore and what should they take into consideration?

A: First, they should determine if the product in question is destined for different Asian markets or if the company wants to be in a specific country. Singapore has been rated as one of the easiest countries to do business for the last 20 years, because of its well-developed physical, digital and legal infrastructure. The language is also a factor that works in favor of those interested in doing business in Singapore. It is one of the few Asian countries where the common language is English, although many Singaporeans also speak Malay, Chinese and Tamil, which are also official languages, as well as other Asian languages given the deep integration with the Asian region. This helps companies to expand easily to other countries.

In general terms, we work with Mexican enterprises in two main areas. The first is product trade and the second is technology development. E-commerce also has been developing, boosting companies in the fintech and electronic banking segments.

Q: From an SME perspective, what opportunities exist in a market like Singapore?

A: The startup ecosystem in Singapore is enjoying steady growth. We have even seen six of these companies become unicorns in a short period of time. We work with large and small companies alike, often focusing on how SMEs can fit in to generate better results and optimize their business models. SMEs are more flexible. They are willing to risk more in terms of growth and they seek to generate products and services in interesting niches.

Enterprise Singapore can help Mexican SMEs by finding the right partner to exchange technology and processes, that speak in the same terms and that can build a relationship that is beneficial for both parties.

Q: What impact has COVID-19 had on the way Enterprise Singapore does business in Mexico?

A: The first thing that happened was a reconfiguration of the type of sectors we focus on. For a long time, we were focused on the oil and gas and infrastructure sectors. While we still focus on those areas, we are finding a way to do business without the need for people to travel. In the beginning, it was complex but e-commerce and the digitalization of processes in Mexico have advanced substantially over the last year, making this connection even more viable.

COVID-19 helped to make some processes more effective and it also integrated new types of businesses into our portfolio.

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Enterprise Singapore is a Singapore government agency that champions enterprise development. It works with committed companies to build capabilities, innovate and internationalize. It also supports the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trade and startups.

Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst