President of Singapore Coffee Association Mr. Victor Mah,
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to officiate the opening of the Singapore Specialty Coffee Auction today.
2. I enjoy coffee immensely, from the Singapore blend to the Panamanian Geshas. I am thus pleased to see the wide variety of coffee our organisers have brought in today, and the good attendance for this event. It demonstrates the wide-ranging interest in Singapore’s specialty coffee industry, which has grown over the past decade.
3. Rising incomes and changing consumptions patterns have fueled a growing demand for specialty coffees from all over the world. In this regard, I would like to commend the Singapore Coffee Association for its efforts in supporting its members’ access to regional and global markets through meaningful programmes. These include the Cupping Series Programme, which helps local businesses foster networks with global suppliers.
Singapore as a trusted global trading hub for specialty coffee
4. Singapore is well-positioned to be a global trading hub for specialty coffee in the region. We are fortunate to be situated between fast growing consumer markets in the Asia Pacific, and some of the world’s major coffee producing nations such as Vietnam and Indonesia. This makes Singapore a convenient location for agri-commodities companies who wish to participate in the global value chain through activities such as roasting, packaging, grading and certification.
5. Specific to the grading of coffee, I am pleased to share that the Singapore Coffee Association is part of the ASEAN Coffee Federation, which is working to develop a set of standards to grade different types of coffee. This will provide consumers and traders the assurance that the quality of the coffee exported from and through Singapore is based on internationally recognised standards and certification.
6. Singapore will strive to be your trusted and reliable trading partner. Our extensive network of FTAs allows coffee traders to better access the region’s suppliers and markets. This is complemented by our robust regulatory and financial institutions, which provide companies the confidence to base their operations here. Notably, agri-commodity companies, such as Olam, ECOM Agroindustrial, and Bero Coffee have already based their operations in Singapore to be better plugged into the region’s growing trade flows.
7. We will continue to do our part to encourage and facilitate more companies to establish themselves in Singapore, so as to create a vibrant ecosystem that best supports the coffee industry’s growth.Singapore will continue to remain open and facilitative, and to create a conducive business environment, so that the coffee industry here can grow from strength to strength.
Innovation and digitalisation as key drivers to augment trade
8. To remain successful as a global trading hub, we must continue to innovate and transform to remain relevant. Recognising that digitalisation is now both an imperative and an opportunity, many of our businesses and trade association and chambers, or TACs in short, have pivoted towards hybrid online-offline models to engage and transact with consumers. Today’s auction is a good example!
9. By tapping on digital tools and platforms, the Singapore Coffee Association is able to transcend borders and widen its outreach. Today, we have coffee growers and bidders from 15 countries, including up-and-coming coffee producing countries, such as China and Ecuador, joining us virtually for this event. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ambassadors for their active support in making this possible.
10. Similarly, we encourage businesses to access global demand through digital channels such as B2B and B2C platforms, virtual trade fairs, and by forging new business relationships online.
11. I am also pleased to learn that Singapore Coffee Association and Shopee will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding to digitise the upcoming Singapore Coffee Week, and help Singapore’s coffee industry players and businesses go digital and enhance their outreach.
12. I hope these efforts would help our businesses enhance their online visibility and diversify their revenue streams. This will enable them to remain competitive and prepare for the post COVID-19 future.
13. My colleagues at Enterprise Singapore will be happy to provide further advice on how the Government supports businesses’ digitalisation and internationalisation efforts, through programmes such as Market Readiness Assistance and Grow Digital.
Achieving Singapore’s trade objectives through close partnership with businesses and TACs
14. While the Government remains fully committed to supporting the growth and transformation of our businesses, we cannot achieve this alone. Our TACs are key partners in driving and amplifying industry initiatives across sectors, strengthening business collaborations, and forging new networks. With the support of TACs like the Singapore Coffee Association, businesses can build capabilities in technology, infrastructure, and research development, which in turn supports industry transformation across sectors.
15. We will continue to walk alongside our TACs and businesses in this journey. Thank you, and I wish all of you a pleasant day ahead.