Singapore contractors encouraged to tap into overseas markets

Contractors in Singapore need to look beyond the country for businesses.

Despite the increasingly positive outlook for private sector construction projects, the Singapore Contractors Association said that local firms should tap into opportunities in the region.

According to a forecast from the Building and Construction Authority earlier this year, demand for projects in 2009 will come in at between S$20 billion and S$27 billion. This is significantly lower than the S$35 billion in 2008.

President of the Singapore Contractors Association, Andrew Khng, said: “In the last six or seven months, the construction industry had slowed down. However, there were also projects by the government that were coming on stream… that had balanced out the projects that stopped in terms of private or residential sector.”

But he added that his counterparts in related industries are starting to see more projects on their table, which will eventually come downstream to the construction sector. This comes in part from brisk sales in Singapore’s private property market.

Still, there are signs that more residential projects may come online by year-end, following a strong showing by recent launches.

Meanwhile, some contractors are benefiting from the government’s decision to roll out public sector projects worth up to S$50 million each in the second half this year. The government had earlier deferred projects amounting to S$4.7 billion.

Technical director, Samwoh Corporation, Ho Nyok Yong, said: “Construction costs were high, that was why the government held up projects. But this year, they are releasing quite a lot of civil engineering contracts, which our company concentrates quite a lot on.

“Our company is doing quite well. In fact, last year we had a turnover of S$250 million, and I would say as compared to other years, it was one of the best.”

The company expects a turnover of about S$250 million again this year. Samwoh is expanding overseas in countries like China, something that the Singapore Contractors Association is promoting.

Mr Khng said: “Places like Cambodia, Vietnam, even as far as Mongolia or even to the African market – basically these are all untapped at the moment, especially if we look at our Singapore market, it is actually quite a small market.

“I will always advise contractors not to put all eggs into one basket, to balance it out. That’s why I’m now encouraging more export services and hopefully the government will also help to give us some grants, so we can initiate the move faster.”

Besides holding seminars to share new market information, the association has been organising mission trips overseas to look for opportunities.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Aug 2009

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