Russian Opportunities To Raise Capital, Acquire Talent And Access Asia’s US$3 Trillion Consumer Markets From Singapore

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500 Russian Companies are now based in Singapore looking at Southeast Asian opportunities. We explain the market trends

Russian entrepreneurial ventures should be exploring the wealth of opportunities that Singapore and the ASEAN region have to offer. With deep pools of technology talent and vibrant, modern consumer markets, there are abundant opportunities in Singapore’s sometimes overlooked attributes as an Asian regional financial capital and gateway to markets throughout the region, including China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Singapore signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2019, a single economic market which includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. With free transit of goods, services, capital and workers, the additional Russia-Singapore double tax treaty also permits tax relief in specific trade and service areas.

As a member of ASEAN, Singapore provides free trade access to the fellow ASEAN nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The total middle-class consumer population of ASEAN is 150 million, while the region has a GDP of about US$3 trillion. Singapore also has free trade agreements with China and India, and is a member of the RCEP trade agreement, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. That is expected to come into effect from January 1st next year – just five months from now. Currency, more than 500 Russian companies operate in Singapore, looking to take advantage of this huge potential.

Singapore, like Russia has an established research and innovation culture with strong science and technology capabilities. In recent years, beyond the more traditional areas of bilateral partnership in agro-commodities and consumer sectors, we have seen Singapore companies venturing into Russia to seek opportunities in tech and innovation collaboration. This is to provide their tech solutions or partner with Russian companies to jointly develop such solutions. These can then be sold across Asia and beyond – forming a joint venture with a Singaporean company makes a lot of sense with plenty of IT and R&D talent in Russia and the same in Singapore, yet with Singapore also having the marketing and sales capabilities.

Numerous Russian companies in the hi tech and IT sectors see Singapore as a gateway to Southeast Asia given Singapore’s networks and familiarity with the region. Some Russian technology companies have set up in Singapore to co-develop and test-bed solutions and are collaborating with Singapore companies to expand into the region.

Russian-Singapore public-private partnerships have been growing stronger, aimed at enhancing connectivity. For instance, Enterprise Singapore has partnered the Skolkovo Foundation, Sistema Asia and MTS Systems to facilitates the expansion of companies across Russia and Southeast Asia through the business development platform Sales Jet.

In agriculture, the Financial Times noted how Russia’s emergence as the world’s largest wheat producer is “partly due to climate change”, with milder winters enabling higher yields. Consistently producing more than 60 million tonnes of wheat per annum annually, Russia has become the number one grower and exporter, driven by warming temperatures. Russian agricultural companies are also showing increasing interest to establish its base in Singapore for expansion into Southeast Asia.

One example is Don Agro,from Rostov-On-Don – the first Russian company in the agricultural sector to be listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) in February 2020. This enhances Singapore’s capital market offering and facilitates access to Russian wheat. Singapore companies are also offering tech solutions to enable trade. For example, VCargo Cloud worked with Russia’s RS Tradehouse to integrate their respective e-trade platforms to facilitate trade between Southeast Asia and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The other area of opportunity lies in consumer-related areas, with the large Russian market of 145 million people offering substantial opportunities for Singapore companies in consumer-related areas such as food services and retail.

Singapore can serve as a Russian gateway to markets in Asia and beyond.

4IR and corresponding Industry 4.0 opportunities in domains like automation, cyber-physical systems, Internet-of-Things (IoT), smart production, Big Data, analytics & AI are other areas where Singapore and Russian entrepreneurial ambitions converge.

5G implementation is also a positive trend. Russia’s largest telco, MTS, gained the first 5G license in July 2020, with plans to launch 5G-based solutions for corporate customers. Additionally, development and testing of different enterprise and consumer use cases are already underway.

The time difference of 5 hours between Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and Singapore is another advantage. It grants sufficient time for teams to synchronize during the Russian morning and Singaporean afternoon. Some eastern districts of Russia and cities like Irkutsk, an important trade and transportation hub on the Trans-Siberian Railway between East Asia and Europe, are on the same time-zone as Singapore.

Singapore offers a base to access international markets, the capital pools, consumers, and the crucial economies of the Indo-Pacific, the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim – and is a connecting port on the Vladivostok-Chennai Maritime Corridor between Russia and India.

Substantial opportunities exist for Russian companies and exporters in Singapore to explore joint venture possibilities and to help each other into the respective markets in Eurasia, as well as Southeast Asia. Russian and Singaporean investors may contact Maria Kotova of Dezan Shira & Associates at maria.kotova@dezshira.com. The practice has offices in Russia, Singapore, most of the ASEAN nations in addition to India and China. Please also visit us at www.dezshira.com

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About Us

Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Please contact Maria Kotova at russia@dezshira.com for Russian investment advisory or assistance with market intelligence, legal, tax and compliance issues throughout Asia.

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