Dr T. Chandroo, Chairman of SICCI,
Mr. Ratan P. Watal, Member Secretary of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Thank you for inviting me to speak at the India 101 Internationalisation Conference. It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today.
2. The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) was founded almost a century ago by Indian businessmen who sailed to Singapore in search of economic opportunities. It is fitting that the Chamber has come full circle today – charting the path forward for Singapore businesses to succeed in India.
3. India today is on the cusp of tremendous economic expansion. As the economic centre of gravity shifts to Asia, India – with its enormous growth potential and commitment to economic reforms – will emerge as the next global economic powerhouse.
4. By 2025, India is set to become the world’s third largest consumer market, after the US and China, and its consuming class will more than triple to 89 million households. By 2030, Mumbai’s economy alone will match Singapore’s national GDP today. Without doubt, India is poised to become the fastest growing major economy in the decades ahead.
5. Moreover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landslide victory in May has signalled not only continuity of government, but also continuation of economic reforms. In the last three years, India’s ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index has jumped from 130th to the 77th place. Digital India – an ambitious program to transform India’s digital economy – has provided 99% of the adult population with a digital identity and increased the number of digital payment transactions by six fold to 20.7 billion transactions. While challenges remain, I am confident that Prime Minister Modi’s second term will usher in greater economic reforms and further improvements in India’s business environment.
6. These trends tell us that India is on the move, and one of the most favourable destinations for Singapore firms to expand to – particularly sectors such as consumer goods, digital economy, logistics, infrastructure and urban development.
7. In the consumer goods sector, for instance, India’s food retail market is expected to grow at a rate of over 9 percent annually to S$1.1 trillion by 2023.Together with growing demand for healthier, convenient, and international food options, this brings opportunities in a sector where Singapore companies have a strong track record. In May this year, Ace Synergy International launched a bold new line of healthy snacks in India. CorNiche Multigrain Chips – targeting affluent Indians who are more health conscious and receptive to new offerings from abroad. Despite fierce market competition, the firm remains committed to internationalisation and plans to enter all major Indian cities by 2020.
8. With growing smartphone penetration, 4G network, and e-commerce options, India’s digital economy sector has many exciting opportunities too. Shopmatic is one of our pioneers in this sector. The young Singapore start-up has already transformed thousands of MSMEs in India by connecting a diversity of e-commerce elements into a complete ecosystem. With just 50 rupees, merchants can use Shopmatic’s platform to create entire e-commerce stores in minutes.
9. Another avenue for businesses exploring economic opportunities in India is Government-to-Government partnerships, such as the one Singapore has with the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
10. We know internationalisation is an adventure.Sometimes it is not an easy journey. There is a learning curve. To support our companies’ efforts, we have financial and non-financial assistance schemes, tailored to your diverse needs. If you would like to understand the overseas business environment before taking the plunge, there are business immersion workshops and trade fairs funded by Enterprise Singapore. If you would like to identify potential business partners or directly market your products in India, there is funding support under the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA).
11. TACs like SICCI also have an important role to enable Singapore businesses to succeed in India. TACs are a store of social capital in the business community. Bringing together knowledge for businesses to tap on. Bringing together valuable business contacts. All these to help uplift younger entrepreneurs and the next generation.
12. Now, more than ever, we face an uncertain global economic landscape. So it is even more important for Singapore businesses to venture abroad. To find new opportunity. And India is one of the most promising markets for Singapore. Our Government agencies and SICCI will continue to work closely together to support companies’ internationalisation efforts and maximise your chance of success in the Indian market. We hope that you will come on-board as we chart a new path forward into a market of new and exciting opportunities.
13. I wish you all a fruitful and successful conference, and I look forward to our dialogue session later.