GUEST COLUMN: Singapore a growing market for US water technologies

Q&A with US Embassy, Singapore.

Jun 29th, 2016
Content Dam Ww Online Articles 2016 06 6594 Small Portrait

By Curt Cultice, Senior Communications Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service

SINGAPORE, JUNE 29, 2016 -- The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

“The need for a sustainable and fresh water supply is an increasingly important global concern, and countries in Southeast Asia such as Singapore are seeking solutions for their water and environmental management needs,” said Sherry Ng, Regional Commercial Assistant for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Ng is part of the U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide network, and is based at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. The U.S. Commercial Service works to help U.S. companies export through offices in more than 100 U.S. cities and U.S. Embassies and Consulates in over 75 countries. Ng goes into detail discussing potential opportunities in the below Q&A.

-----

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016
U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

-----

Q: Why should U.S. firms providing water infrastructure-related materials, products, services, and technology consider Singapore as a key market in their export portfolio?

Ng: Southeast Asia offers one of the world's largest and most dynamic markets for American exporters. The World Bank Group has consistently ranked Singapore first in the world regarding the ease of conducting business since 2003. Trade between the U.S. and Singapore continues to grow, and can be attributed to one of the most successful FTAs on record--$47 billion in 2015. The need for sustainable and fresh water supply is widespread, and Singapore has positioned itself as a global leader in water technology development and as a regional center for the water industry in South East Asia. Singapore’s Economic Development Bureau notes that since 2006 the country has allocated nearly USD$470 million in water infrastructure development. Singapore’s gross domestic product value more than tripled from USD$1.25 million in 2003 to USD$3.68 million in 2015, with thousands of industry-related jobs, and the water infrastructure industry expects to see its investments continue this positive trend.

Q: Could you update readers on progress/latest developments of Singapore’s efforts to establish itself as a Global Hydro hub?
Ng:
The water industry is a key growth sector for Singapore’s economy. The country’s water demand is estimated at 1.4 million cubic meters daily, but domestic resources only meet about 50 percent of this demand. Singapore aims to become an international center that develops and provides water technologies and solutions, and an additional USD$194 million has been committed to further research and manpower to help position Singapore as a Global Hydro hub. The water industry was expected to triple in its value added to the Singapore economy to $1.36 billion by 2015, offering new opportunities for U.S. investors and exporters.

Q: The Country Commercial Guide (CCG) notes that Singapore’s Public Utilities Board has opened opportunities for private companies. How is this progressing, and is it opening new avenues for U.S. firms?
Ng:
The Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency, has opened its doors to private companies that want to test-bed projects using its infrastructure, offering excellent opportunities for U.S. businesses. PUB offers contracts to private companies to design, build and operate water plants. This also opens a door for U.S. manufacturers to supply their equipment to the prime contractors working on PUB projects. U.S. companies are encouraged to participate in future tenders offered by the PUB.

Q: Could you identify some recent and developing water infrastructure projects that would be of interest to U.S. firms?Ng: A great resource is the Global Water Intelligence Project Database, of which I’ve noted a few examples:

  • Singapore, Marina East: PUB plans to approve Singapore's fourth major desalination plant at Marina East, with a capacity of 30MIGD (136,380m3/d). The plant will also have the capability to treat water from the Marina Reservoir.
  • Singapore, Tuas NEWater plant: Singapore plans to build a NEWater plant at Tuas, roughly50MIGD (228,000m³/d). Currently, PUB operates four NEWater plants with a total combined capacity of 117MIGD (531,880m³/d).
  • For other projects that are up for tender, visit: http://www.pub.gov.sg/tenders/forthcoming/Pages/DevelopmentContracts.aspx

Q: Are there particular water infrastructure subsectors where U.S. firms are especially competitive? How about new trends in buyer preferences?
Ng:
Singaporean business partners and consumers, like those around the world, have a strong affinity for brand name “Made in USA” products and services. Subsector opportunities include filtering and purifying machinery and apparatus, wastewater recycling and treatment technologies, and modular wastewater treatment systems.

Q: The Country Commercial Guide (CCG) discusses how Singapore is one of the few countries in the world to have mandated green designs for all new buildings since early 2008. Could you update readers on how this mandate is progressing?

Ng: Singapore is just one of a few nations that have a green design mandate for all new buildings. The Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark program encourages green awareness in the construction and real estate sectors. Under the BCA Green Mark program buildings are assessed for energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and environmental protection. This program has garnered regional recognition and continues to grow leaving Singapore well-positioned to capture the growth in this sector through increased incorporation of cutting-edge clean energy technologies in new and existing building developments.

Q: In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets specific standards for drinkable water quality; are the standards in Singapore comparable? Does Singapore recognize U.S. product standards for environmental technologies or does it have its own?
Ng:
Singapore recognizes U.S. product standards, and similarly regulates their water based off WHO guidelines for drinking-water quality. PUB makes continuous efforts to maintain drinking water quality at the highest possible level. PUB has a comprehensive and robust sampling and monitoring program to verify water quality, from source to tap, ensuring that water supplied is safe for consumption. The sampling and monitoring program is developed based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality and is reviewed regularly. The quality of Singapore’s drinking water is regulated by the Environmental Public Health (EPH) (Quality of Piped Drinking Water) Regulations 2008, based on WHO Guidelines for drinking-water quality

Q: What are some challenges for U.S. exporters of water-related technologies to Singapore?
Ng:
With the ongoing restructuring of Singapore’s economy, U.S. companies doing business in Singapore can expect increased operating costs and a continuing tightened labor market. Singapore is a maturing economy, and the growing influence of social media and increasing competition from other trade agreements with ASEAN partners will pose a challenge to Singapore to remain the most favorable market in the region over the next few decades.

However, despite some challenges, there are many positives aspects of the country’s business-friendly environment:

  • English speaking population
  • Lack of corruption
  • Favorable tax codes
  • Strong intellectual property protection
  • Major distribution and logistics hub and gateway to the ASEAN region

Q: What are some best tips for doing business in Singapore?
Ng:
Many American exporters use agents or distributors to serve the Singapore market and other markets in Southeast Asia. Finding prospective partners usually does not present a problem as Singaporean firms are typically very receptive when it comes to representing new products and respond enthusiastically to new opportunities. A brief outline of tips are highlighted below.

  • Singaporean companies prefer to do business face-to-face. Upon short listing potential local distributors to distribute your product, I recommend making a trip to Singapore to meet with these distributors
  • Singapore is a regional hub, which means that companies in Singapore are also likely to have business dealings and opportunities with surrounding countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. Singaporean firms appreciate when export-ready companies also consider these markets.
  • As Singapore is a small country, most companies prefer sole distributorship rights.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.On July 14-22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce is leading a Water Infrastructure Business Development Mission for U.S. companies to Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.

U.S. Commercial Service Singapore offers a wide range of programs and has an excellent record of success introducing U.S. firms to the market. To get started, visit the U.S. Commercial Service Singapore or contact your nearest U.S. Commercial Service office in the United States. Businesses are also encouraged to visit our Country Commercial Guides.

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016 U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016 U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016 U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016 U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

Singapore International Water Week, July 10-13, 2016 U.S. National Pavilion to assist U.S. exhibitors

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is a global platform to share and co-create innovative water solutions. The biennial event gathers stakeholders from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies, and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic program by the Singapore Government to develop and enhance its water technologies industry.

A leading event on the global water calendar, SIWW delivers a range of flagship programs where industry players share the latest in business, scientific and technological innovation, and policy developments in water.

The United States will host an official U.S. National Pavilion at SIWW, and the U.S. Commercial Service will provide counseling, business matchmaking and other sales support to U.S. exhibitors seeking foreign partners.

The U.S. National Pavilion is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Kallman Worldwide.

More in Drinking Water