International Enterprise Singapore Unveils Plan to Help Trading Sector Digitalise for Global Growth and Productivity

Digital business-to-business (B2B) e-Commerce transactions are expected to reach US$6.7 trillion by 2020. To overcome disruption and tap this growth, Singapore needs to build a conducive environment for digital marketplaces and platforms to flourish.
2 years ago

Singapore, Wednesday, 06 September 2017

The Wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was unveiled today by Minister S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) at International Enterprise (IE) Singapore’s event “Digitalisation of Trade – New Mindsets, New Skillsets”. The ITM will help companies digitalise to enhance global growth and productivity, and targets to create 10,000 new jobs by 2020. Comprising over 34,000 firms, the wholesale trade industry provides livelihoods for more than 325,000, accounting for 9% of Singapore’s workforce in 2016.

Wholesale trade will drive economic growth for Singapore

In 2016, wholesale trade contributed S$47.3 billion (12%) to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The industry continues to grow strongly as Asia’s rising population, urbanisation and consumerism drive trade flows to meet the region’s increased demand for food, infrastructure materials, fuel and electronics, and more.

However, wholesale trade is highly susceptible to global trends such as rising protectionism as it is an externally-oriented sector. Technological advancements are also transforming the global marketplace, business models and job functions.

Wholesale Trade ITM to focus on digitalisation and skills development

The Wholesale Trade ITM has been developed in collaboration with a wide range of key stakeholders, covering industry players, trade unions, trade associations and government agencies. It charts out strategies to ensure the sector remains relevant by:

i) Building trade connectivity through digital marketplaces and platforms;

ii) Strengthening enterprise capabilities and growing a vibrant ecosystem of wholesale trading enterprises in Singapore;

iii) Developing industry-ready talent equipped with deep skills for digitalisation and internationalisation.

Build trade connectivity through digital marketplaces and platforms

Digital business-to-business (B2B) e-Commerce transactions are expected to reach US$6.7 trillion by 2020. To overcome disruption and tap this growth, Singapore needs to build a conducive environment for digital marketplaces and platforms to flourish. The ITM includes plans to accelerate global trade connectivity, facilitating and capturing value from e-commerce trade flows, as well as increasing SMEs’ market access and productivity through digital marketplaces and platforms.

Key initiatives:

i) ASEAN Digital Trade Facilitation Platform

 Led by Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and in partnership with GeTS Global, expected to be ready in Q4 2017.

 Fosters collaboration among ASEAN logistics associations; facilitates customs clearance through a single window.

 Allows companies within the region to move goods across regional borders in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

ii) Cross Border Cognitive Supply Chain Solution

 A digital trade platform by GeTS Global and IBM Asia Pacific, collaboration agreement signed at ITM launch event today.

 Enables 350,000 connected trading partners (such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Olam and Toyota) on IBM's Supply Chain Business Network (SCBN) to do automated customs declaration at 18 customs nodes across the world, including Singapore, China, Indonesia, Thailand and the US.

 Equipped with cognitive capabilities and predictive analytics to help traders mitigate disruptions, risks and costs. E.g. in bad weather conditions, it will recommend an alternative source for the obtaining of goods and alternative routes for shipment to ensure timely delivery.

iii) Work with trade associations and private enterprises to help SMEs list on digital marketplaces, enabling them to access new markets and enjoy economies of scale through shared services on these platforms.

Strengthen enterprise capabilities and grow a vibrant ecosystem of wholesale trading enterprises

A new government agency, named Enterprise Singapore, will be formed through the merger of IE Singapore and SPRING. This underscores the government’s commitment to adapt and strengthen our support for our enterprises. Leveraging IE Singapore’s core strengths in internationalisation and SPRING’s expertise and levers in helping SMEs, the newly-formed agency will offer companies a holistic and integrated network to build capabilities and access overseas markets opportunities. Going forward, Enterprise Singapore will be the lead agency driving the transformation of the wholesale trade industry.

Develop industry-ready talent with skillsets for digitalisation and internationalisation

The transformation of the wholesale trade industry will create new opportunities for the workforce. Demand for specialised talent with digital skillsets such as digital marketing, global supply chain and data analytics will grow as companies address new business models. Companies will require talent with regional market exposure, connections and experience. The range of roles with greater demand include Digital Marketers, Data Analysts, Regional Business Development Managers, Risk & Compliance Officers and Supply Chain Specialists.

There are ongoing partnerships with Workforce Singapore (WSG), National Trade Union Congress, Institutes of Higher Learning and industry players to identify job opportunities and prepare PMETs and students for careers in wholesale trade. The Wholesale Trade ITM skills framework, to be completed by the second-half of 2018, will provide industry-validated insights into the skillsets required for the future of trade.

Closing skills gaps and building talent pipelines

At the PMET level, relevant Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) and tertiary programmes will provide local PMETs with opportunities to re-skill and move into new positions in wholesale trade.

Key initiatives:

i) Certificate/ Minor Programme in International Trade

 IE Singapore and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to develop a Certificate/Minor Programme in International Trade.

 The programme is primarily targeted at PMETs looking to develop specialised skillsets in international trade. It covers areas such as digitalisation, analytics and regional cultural intelligence.

ii) PCP - South East Asia Ready Talent

 IE Singapore, WSG and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) signed an MOU at the ITM launch to develop a PCP to nurture a pipeline of talent with regional market knowledge.

 The structured programme includes a training curriculum for financial savviness, business and language, with participants having opportunities to network with industry leaders and learn on the job.

 Importantly, it includes market experience through overseas attachments and projects, preparing them for regional positions in Southeast Asia.

iii) PCP - International Trading Executives

 IE Singapore, WSG, the Singapore Management University (SMU) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy launched this in 2016.

 To date, 65 mid-careerists have successfully found employment in trading companies. SMU is working towards a target of 100 PMET placements per year and will incorporate more digitalisation relevant modules for future runs.

Source: International Enterprise Singapore

Illustration Photo: Singapore Port at Sunset (credits: Dylan / Flickr Creative Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

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