SINGAPORE -Trade associations help drive business innovation and productivity, and this support is particularly important as Singapore undergoes economic restructuring, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck.
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Mr Teo was speaking at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's 3rd Trade Association Congress on Saturday morning.
The following is an exerpt from Mr Teo's opening address:
Supporting the growth of sectors and firms
Trade associations are the voice of their members and businesses. They champion the growth of their industries and promote the interests of their members. In doing this, they support the individual needs of their members, and rally them around common goals.
At the firm level, trade associations can make a big difference in driving innovation and productivity, and in helping businesses move up the value chain. They can serve as a platform for best practices to be shared and for firms to learn from one another. They can also help to prepare their members to seize emerging opportunities. SPRING has also supported smaller associations such as the Federation of Merchants' Associations Singapore (FMAS) to drive industry initiatives and propel the growth of merchants' associations and heartland businesses. With SPRING's support, FMAS has conducted outreach activities such as the Heartland Retail Seminar, the Singapore Heartland Enterprise Star Award, workshops and seminars.
The Government has supported such efforts through the Local Enterprise and Association Development, or LEAD, programme. The LEAD programme provides funding support to associations to undertake initiatives that will enhance the competitiveness of businesses in their respective sectors. In addition, the International Marketing Activities Programme, or iMAP, also supports associations in finding new business opportunities overseas through organising members to participate in trade shows and exhibitions. 6
Many companies have benefited from initiatives championed by our trade associations. Since 2005, LEAD has helped more than 38,000 companies. iMAP has supported more than 1,500 trade fairs and missions since 2007, with about 3,000 companies benefiting every year. I hope that trade associations will continue to tap the Government's support through these programmes, to help their members grow and succeed.
Partnerships for Innovation and Growth
However, there is only so much that any individual association working alone can accomplish. Better results are achieved when associations work together. As the Chinese saying goes, 同心协力 其力断金 (If we work together, we can cut gold). I would like to encourage Associations to work together on areas of synergy where they can drive impactful solutions.
The collaboration between the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) to outsource the preparation of non-core food items is a good example. This initiative not only allowed restaurants to free up food preparation time, but also enabled food manufacturers to scale up and invest in automation equipment, thereby improving the productivity of both restaurants and food manufacturers. There is potential for more such win-win industry collaborations, and I would like to encourage associations to be active in driving such projects. The Government is prepared to support industry collaboration through mechanisms such as SPRING's Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP) programme which was launched last year.
Bigger associations can also play a role in helping member associations in their overseas projects. For example, SFMA was supported by LEAD to set up the Yiwu Singapore Food Product Centre in China. As the SFMA was a member of the SCCCI, the IE-SCCCI Singapore Enterprise Centre (ISSEC) assisted SFMA in the registration of a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) in Shanghai and the physical setup of the Centre in Zhejiang, China. After the 7
Centre was operational in Dec 2013, SCCCI continued to help SFMA to source for in-market business leads from supermarket chains, and also to explore tapping on e-commerce platforms to promote Singapore's food.