Singapore chases dream

SINGAPORE, Australia’s largest Asian market, has set itself the goal of becoming Asia’s finance and information technology and telecommunications hub.

And WA, with its close proximity and identical time zone is ideally placed to help it fulfil this dream.

Singapore already manufactures fifty per cent of the world’s computer hard drives.

It recently eased its financial regulations, removing the forty per cent foreign ownership limit.

The Singaporean Government is pumping money into IT development, particularly science hubs, developing a $1 billion fund for ‘technopreneurs’.

Singapore has the world’s second busiest port, averaging 800 shipping movements per day. By comparison, Darwin now averages about 800 shipping movements a year.

Singapore is also the world’s third largest oil refining centre.

Austrade acting trade commissioner Singapore Peter Amey said Singaporeans were not afraid to bring in foreign talent if it was needed.

“Singapore sees itself as a competitor and natural successor to Hong Kong as a financial centre,” Mr Amey said.

“The country has gone out and knocked on doors and enhanced its quasi agreements with France, Ireland and Germany.”

Mr Amey said every Singapor-ean house was wired for the Internet.

“But there is a great need for services to make the SingaporeOne network – an Internet, entertainment and government service link – work,” he said.

“It is just a skeleton at the moment.

“The government is also outsourcing a lot of its IT services.”

However, the Singaporean market will be hotly contested.

“Because Singapore is the shining light of the region, everybody is in there,” Mr Amey said.

The region’s currency collapse actually led to an increase in Singaporean students in Australia.

As the Singapore dollar was buying less, it meant Australia was more price competitive when measured against the stronger US and European currencies.

“Students go back to Singapore and look for the products they became used to using in Australia,” Mr Amey said.

Market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres manager north Asia region Brian Richardson said Singapore was the richest market in Asia.

“The average wage is US$19,000,” Mr Richardson said.

“It has been a very homogeneous market. Most of the population lived in government houses.

“People want a government house with IKEA furniture and a white or silver Mercedes.

“Buyers follow the leader. A market leader could command up to 70 per cent of the sales.

“However, the government now realises Singapore needs diversity,” he said.

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