In January 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative, or NEI, which aims to double U.S. exports by 2015 while supporting millions of new American jobs. The NEI marks the first time the United States implemented a governmentwide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.
As a dynamic Asian market and gateway to all of East Asia, Singapore is playing a vital role in fueling demand for U.S. goods and services, and I proudly support this development. We’ve already seen good progress as overall U.S. exports were up nearly 17 percent in 2010, and our exports to Singapore are up an even more impressive 30.5 percent.
The NEI focuses on five key areas: improving trade advocacy and export promotion efforts; increasing access to credit, especially for small and midsize businesses; removing barriers to the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad; enforcing trade rules; and pursuing policies at the global level to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
Last year, Golden State companies shipped $4 billion worth of products to Singapore, and the state’s exports to this Asian market were up 25 percent in 2010 compared with the previous year. Singapore, with a population of just 5 million, ranks as the 10th largest U.S. export market.
Driven by its role as a regional high-end manufacturing center and trading gateway, Singapore has bounced back strongly from the worldwide economic downturn with 14.5 percent growth in 2010, the second highest growth rate in the world last year. American exporters should also consider what Singapore has to offer: A first-world country with all the amenities; the second-highest per capita gross domestic product (more than $42,000) in Asia behind only Japan; strong intellectual property rights protection; and a country where English is spoken as a first language. In fact, the World Bank has consistently ranked Singapore as the easiest country in the world in which to do business, thanks in large part to its transparent business environment.
Environment Conducive to Business
Because of opportunities and its welcoming environment, more than 1,500 American companies — including many from California — have operations in Singapore, focusing on the regional market in sectors ranging from environmental and information technologies to biomedical, cosmetics, aviation, oil and gas, education and logistics.
Our trading relationship continues to be enhanced by the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. There are virtually no barriers to the entry of U.S. goods to the Singapore market. Since the agreement went into effect in 2004, total merchandise trade between our two countries has grown by 47 percent and U.S. exports by 76 percent (to $29.1) billion last year.
Only a small fraction of all U.S. businesses export, and of those that do, 58 percent sell to only one market. As such, Singapore not only represents an important market, but it also holds great potential for U.S. companies as a regional hub for expanding their sales into Southeast Asia and beyond to other countries.
I encourage U.S. companies to take a close look at what Singapore’s market has to offer. To get started, visit the U.S. Commercial Service at buyusa.gov/SanDiego and our U.S. Embassy at buyusa.gov/Singapore.
David Adelman is U.S. ambassador to Singapore and conducted a business outreach tour to Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle last fall and another to the southeast United States this winter.