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Canberra business groups strengthening links with Singapore

by April 12, 2016 General

Aspen Medical co-founder Glenn Keys says a new deal signed with Singapore’s peak business chamber group will save Canberra businesses years in developing networks and finding trade partners.

The Canberra Business Chamber chairman signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Business Federation on Tuesday, joined by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and senior government bureaucrats.

Aspen Medical co-founder and Canberra Business Chamber chairman Glenn Keys. Aspen Medical co-founder and Canberra Business Chamber chairman Glenn Keys. Photo: Melissa Adams

As part of the agreement, a new online social network for ACT based businesses will be connected with Singapore firms through the federation. The Canberra International Support Network initiative allows emerging businesses to learn and connect with those who have already been successful overseas.

The federation is the island city-state’s peak business group, brining together more than 22,500 Singapore companies, and local and foreign business chambers, to promote trade, investment and effective industrial relations.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Singapore's Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo and Australian High Commissioner ... Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo and Australian High Commissioner Philip Green this week. Photo: Andrew West.

Mr Keys said the range of tools meant local businesses could take advantage of links with many businesses and 18 international trade missions sponsored by the federation each year.

“Opening this door is fantastic, now Canberra businesses need to step through it,” Mr Keys said.

“The agreement will also allow professionals who are operating globally who have some connection or want some connection with Canberra to come into that portal, talk about what businesses they want to connect with, if they want to invest or refer, buy or whatever it is. 

“The Singapore Business Federation are going to allow us to expand that business out to incorporate all of their businesses as well. It is a dramatic expansion.” 

The signing ceremony, also attended by Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Robyn Hendry, heard there were already 130,000 graduates of Australian universities living in Singapore. 

Mr Keys said Singapore businesses would benefit from the deal quickly, including through access to federal government departments and officials in Canberra. 

“A lot of Singaporeans get Australia, so for them we’ve now granted an open and easy access point into Australia.”

“They might have known Sydney or Melbourne when they went to university or studied in Australia but now they’re going to have somebody who can open doors for them, help make connections and even provide office space for them as they pass through Canberra,” he said. 

“Singapore is an important trade partner and neighbour, and when direct international flights start in September we will be even closer,” Mr Barr said.

“International flights will be a game changer which will open up new opportunities for our businesses to connect with key markets overseas and expand their international reach. In turn this helps create jobs in Canberra and diversify our economy.

“Overseas flights give us a new platform to show what professionals in the Canberra region have to offer, and make it easier for us to attract international investment.”

Mr Barr will travel to China for Australia week events with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other state and territory leaders before returning to Canberra next week. 

The journalist is travelling to Singapore as a guest of Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Tourism Board.