by Meetings and Conventions Asia | March 03, 2020
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Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, leads a dialogue with AmCham Singapore members, moderated by Emma Smith, CEO of Sandpiper Communications. Credit: AmCham Singapore

SINGAPORE - The findings of a recent survey show that despite COVID-19 having an impact on businesses in the region, the American business community still retains strong confidence in Singapore.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore), in partnership with Sandpiper Communications, recently released its findings of the COVID-19 Business Impact Survey which was conducted from February 12 to 18, 2020 among association members.

Singapore's minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan Chun Sing, conducted a dialogue with 80 members of AmCham, following the overview of the survey findings presented by Ms Saskia Kendall, head of Health at Sandpiper Communications.

Speaking at the event, AmCham's chairman of the board of governors, Mr Dwight Hutchins, who is also the Asia Pacific MD, Strategy Consulting - Consumer at Accenture said: "The Singapore government's decisive response to contain the outbreak locally displays all the hallmarks of what Singapore has become famous for - forward planning and transparent and effective communication. The recent announcement of the Budget 2020 Stabilisation and Support package demonstrated the Singapore government's swift ability to support businesses as they try to weather this testing time in order to prime themselves for future growth opportunities during the recovery process."

During the dialogue, Ms Emma Smith, CEO of Sandpiper Communications, said that, "businesses in Singapore remain largely confident that at this time COVID-19 will not affect their reputation.

Part of the reason for this may be that they are taking their responsibility to prevent transmission of the virus seriously. However, it is vital that companies carefully prepare for an outbreak including how they communicate this internally and externally.

"Companies feel that the perception of the severity of the outbreak in Singapore is worse outside of Singapore rather than within it. This underlined the confidence that business in Singapore has in government efforts, which has rightly received international praise, and Singapore as a business hub in the region. While international media coverage has focused on the numbers of cases, people in Singapore recognise the extensive efforts taken to trace each case and limit the spread, which inspires confidence not concern."

Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan Chun Sing reiterated that Singapore would remain open as a business hub. He added, "AmCham members shared with me their strong confidence in Singapore's economic fundamentals as well as their trust in our ability to tackle the COVID-19 situation and emerge stronger than before.

"I encourage our businesses and trade associations and chambers to support one another during these times, and work with the government to overcome the challenges we face. The government will also double down on our efforts to assist companies in building capabilities for the long-term, so that they are poised to take advantage of opportunities when the global economy recovers."

The survey results:

Impact to Business Operations
•    COVID-19 has "greatly impacted" business operations in Singapore for 21% of companies and "somewhat" impacted another 57%.
•    Almost 32% of companies reported that Covid-19 has impacted their Asia Pacific business operations to a great extent.
•    Companies are limiting ways staff could potentially be exposed to Covid-19 with 82% of companies putting off business travel out of Singapore.  
•    Respondents are cautious about business travel to Singapore with 40% of companies cancelling such travel plans.
•    63% of respondents saying they have already postponed or cancelled large-scale meetings or events in Singapore as a direct result of COVID-19.

Economic Outlook
•    The majority of companies expect impact to their 2020 revenue, with 38% estimating a decrease between 1%-10%, and 20% of companies estimating a decrease of 11%-20%.
•    39% of companies have already started to re-evaluate their strategy for the remainder of 2020.

Companies' Perception of Singapore and the Singapore Government's Measures
•    98% of companies continue to hold long-term confidence in Singapore as a business hub.
•    97% of the companies think that the Singapore Government has been effective in communicating health and safety updates with respect to COVID-19.
•    Almost 80% of companies think that the Singapore Government has been effective in addressing the potential economic impact of Covid-19.
•    Almost 80% of companies felt that the perception of the severity of the outbreak in Singapore is worse outside of Singapore rather than within it.

Established in 1973, AmCham Singapore has over 4,700 members representing more than 600 companies. It conducts nearly 200 events per year.