Central Asia, with its vast potential for business expansion and growth, is capturing the attention of Singaporean businesses. Singapore’s business interest in the region is on the rise, as demonstrated by the recent Overseas Market Workshop (OMW) organized by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
During the state visit of Singapore’s President Mdm Halimah Yacob to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, a delegation led by Dr Shahzad Nasim, Vice Chairman of the SBF Middle East Business Group and SBF South Asia Business Group, embarked on a journey to explore the potential in Central Asia. Comprising 22 representatives from 19 Singaporean companies spanning various sectors, the delegation engaged in networking sessions, business matching events and interactions with local experts.
Forging strategic partnerships
The visit not only witnessed the exchange of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Singaporean companies, such as PSA International, Surbana Jurong, Wilmar International, and Enercon Asia, but also fostered collaboration between trade associations and chambers. The SBF signed an MOU with the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan, aiming to facilitate economic and trade collaborations and identify suitable business partners and opportunities. Additionally, the renewal of the MOU with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan further solidified the long-standing partnership between Singapore and Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan: the regional economic powerhouse
As the largest economy in Central Asia, Kazakhstan offers a favorable investment climate for businesses. In 2022, bilateral trade in goods between Singapore and Kazakhstan amounted to S$412.3 million. The SBF’s National Business Survey reveals that 7.95% of Singaporean businesses express a keen interest in venturing into Kazakhstan. The GlobalConnect@SBF program has already facilitated 48 successful ventures into various sectors, including agritech, food manufacturing, services, healthcare, hospitality, education, and infrastructure.
To strengthen economic ties, SBF organized the Kazakhstan-Singapore Business Forum in Astana, providing an avenue for interaction and collaboration between Singaporean and Kazakhstani businesses. Moreover, a networking dinner hosted by the Astana Business Community facilitated further engagement and knowledge-sharing.
Uzbekistan: a thriving market of opportunities
With a growing population and the second-largest economy in Central Asia, Uzbekistan presents promising investment prospects. In 2022, bilateral trade in goods between Singapore and Uzbekistan reached S$8.3 million. The SBF’s National Business Survey indicates that 8.28% of Singaporean businesses express a keen interest in venturing into Uzbekistan. Through the GlobalConnect@SBF program, the SBF has already provided 37 advisories and facilitated ventures in urban development, transport infrastructure, information and communications technology, healthcare, and education.
During the visit to Uzbekistan, the SBF organized the Uzbekistan-Singapore Business Forum in Tashkent. This platform enabled dialogue and collaboration between Singaporean and Uzbekistani businesses. The networking dinner with the Tashkent Business Community further reinforced the spirit of partnership and explored avenues for cooperation.
Mr. Tan Soon Kim, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Global Markets) of Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), expressed optimism about Singaporean companies’ interest in Central Asia. He highlighted significant projects in infrastructure, urban solutions, trade, and innovation sectors across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
EnterpriseSG aims to collaborate with in-market government partners, such as the Astana International Financial Centre and the Investment Promotion Agency of Uzbekistan, to facilitate the expansion of Singaporean companies in the region
Central Asia is emerging as an attractive investment destination for Singaporean businesses seeking diversification and growth. The recent delegation visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, along with the signing of MOUs and the fostering of strategic partnerships, has laid a solid foundation for future collaborations. With a vibrant business environment and abundant opportunities in various sectors, Central Asia beckons Singaporean companies to explore its untapped potential. As both regions strive for stronger cooperation, the future holds immense possibilities for mutually beneficial economic ties between Singapore and Central Asia.