SINGAPORE : Singapore's external trade is expected to double over 10 years.
According to IE (International Enterprise) Singapore, it will hit a whopping $1.6 trillion by 2015, up from $810 billion last year.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, IE Singapore chief executive Chong Lit Cheong said it is an achieveable target.
In the first set of long-term figures given by the government, Singapore's trade is expected to cross the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2009, and hit $1.6 trillion by 2015.
IE Singapore said it is aiming to hit these targets through a series of strategies, including uncovering new markets, and promoting the use of free trade agreements (FTAs).
Key to this, it said, is providing help for local firms, such as SMEs, to become competent exporters.
Chong Lit Cheong, CEO of IE Singapore: "Any decent company must have an export strategy, they must have an internationalisation strategy. Otherwise they cannot grow, because the market in Singapore is just too small.
"I think we will continue to plug into the global economy. We believe the global economy will continue to grow, and we will be able to grow along with them as well. So I think we are quite comfortable that we will be able to hit that $1.6 trillion figure."
IE also expects new free trade pacts to be a further boost to Singapore's trade.
It pointed out that the growth rate of Singapore's trade with Australia nearly tripled to 23% per year, after a free trade agreement was signed in 2003.
"One that we are working on is the China FTA. That's something that we will be discussing closely with the Chinese counterparts. Vice Premier Wu Yi will be coming to Singapore this year, and we hope to take the opportunity to continue to push the FTA discussion," said Chong.
"China is already one of our top five trading partner. We think that will continue to grow rapidly, so we really want to have a good FTA for both countries."
Aside from China, IE has also identified India, Vietnam, and the Middle East as key growth markets.
In particular, it expects demand for goods and services from Singapore to be spurred by the rapid growth in Vietnam.
"Of course the question is how fast, and that's something that will depend on how much reform the government is prepared to implement. China obviously has done a lot of reforms, so will Vietnam do the same? I think we are optimistic, and that's why we continue to see Vietnam as (one of) our key markets," said Chong.
Another strategy is to attract more offshore traders to base themselves in Singapore, in part to enjoy the spin-off benefits that these companies will bring to the economy.
There are currently about 200 such firms here, and IE is targeting to bring in up to 30 more each year, through a series of incentives such as lower taxes.
Said Chong: "I think traders have a lot of value-add, and Singapore being a global trader hub, we want to plug into that and continue to promote the sector. Singapore is already a major oil trading hub for offshore traders. We want to maintain that position.
"We're growing in areas for commodities like coffee, cocoa, palm oil, cotton, and even metals and steel. With these areas, we want to strengthen our offshore trading hub."
IE is holding an International Enterprise Forum over the next two days to promote overseas business opportunities. - CNA /ls