Singapore and the opportunity

Australia and Singapore have had a strong and vibrant relationship since Singapore’s independence in 1965.

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The relationship is built on shared strategic perspectives and complementary economies. Both countries have an interest in economic growth and development of the nations of Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

"We have much to offer the ASEAN region through trade and investment and can play a key role in maximising the prosperity of our neighbours.”

A key component of the strong relationship between the two countries is the solid trade ties shared. Singapore is Australia's largest two-way trading partner and investor in Southeast Asia. It is Australia’s fifth largest trading partner ($52.9 billion in 2022) and fifth largest source of foreign direct investment ($148.6 billion in 2022).

Growing trade sectors include:

  • Agriculture and food - Singapore’s interests in food security will continue to drive agricultural trade. It imports over 90 per cent of its agricultural needs and Australia is a trusted and reliable food partner. Australia and Singapore are negotiating a ‘Food Pact’ to increase the flow of Australian food to Singapore and into the region, shore up the Asian nation’s food security and position it as a hub for food products.
  • Resources - More than 95 per cent of Singapore’s electricity is generated from imported natural gas. To achieve its net zero by 2050 target, renewable energy will become increasingly important. Singapore seeks to have 50 per cent of its domestic electricity powered by clean hydrogen by 2050.
  • Green energy transition - Singapore seeks to be a regional hub for green finance and carbon markets. The Green Economy Agreement provides for cross-border economic activities that drive green growth and facilitate flows of environmental goods and services, green and transition finance and clean energy.
  • Digital Economy - Singapore is first in Asia for digital readiness. The Digital Economy Agreement will benefit Australian businesses with a framework for cooperation on artificial intelligence, data protection and trade facilitation.

Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040

It’s no secret our prosperity and security are closely linked to that of our neighbouring countries. We have much to offer the ASEAN region through trade and investment and can play a key role in maximising the prosperity of our neighbours.

That is why the Australian Federal Government commissioned a report by Nicholas Moore AO to develop a national strategy for greater trade and investment between Australia and Southeast Asia.

In September 2023 the strategy was released: Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040

In response the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a suite of measures including naming 10 senior Australian business leaders as champions for different countries across the region. Each champion, linked to a Southeast Asian market, would work to promote greater trade and investment activity between Australia and the region.

Singapore Business Champion

I am honoured to have been named as ‘Singapore Business Champion’ and welcome the opportunity to strengthen Australia’s trade and investment relationship with this important market.

The Moore report identified four categories Australia can pursue to realise the commercial potential with Southeast Asia – they include raising awareness, building capacity, deepening investment and removing blockages.

Singapore recently overtook Hong Kong as the leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific, according to the Global Financial Centre Index, only trailing New York and London.

The country is home to more than 100 banks including DBS, Standard Chartered Bank and ANZ, many of which are foreign owned, making it truly a global hub for finance.

This presents a clear opportunity for Australia to facilitate more capital investment flow with Singapore, something ANZ has deep expertise in.  

In my role as Business Champion, I plan to bring awareness of Singapore and these opportunities to local businesses and investors.

One opportunity to do this is when I visit Singapore later this year for ANZ’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

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Shayne Elliott (5th from left) with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong (7th from left), Treasurer Jim Chalmers (8th from left) and other politicians and business champions. Source: Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet

50 years in Singapore this year

ANZ is almost 200 years old and, while it may seem similar to its home-country peers, our business is quite different.

ANZ has a unique international footprint with operations in 29 markets around the world, with people on the ground who understand complex global markets and capital flows. This intelligence allows us to connect home market customers in Australia and New Zealand with global opportunities.

We are focused on helping our customers move goods and services around the region. It’s a role we already play better than most. Facilitating trade and investment has always been in our DNA, from the early 1800s when our predecessor banks financed the movement of goods between Great Britain and Australia. 

And Asia continues to be a key plank of that strategy. The bank has had a presence in the region dating all the way back to 1969 in Japan as ANZ’s first footprint in Asia. ANZ has been supporting investment flows in Japan for more than 70 years, last year celebrated its 50th anniversary in Indonesia and 30th anniversary in Vietnam.

Later this year as we mark 50 years in Singapore, it will underline the country’s importance to our strategy – but also as a crucial investment and trading partner for the whole country.

Shayne Elliott is Chief Executive Officer of ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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