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Local SMEs cynical about growth in 2014

Small businesses have reported lower levels of confidence in Singapore’s economy for the upcoming year.

The CPA Australia Asia Pacific Small Business Survey 2013 found a drop in Singapore’s small business confidence for 2014, as compared to that in 2013.

This year, only 24% of 310 Singaporean respondents expect no changes in the local economy, with only 3% of overall respondents anticipating strong growth in 2014.

The survey suggested the decline is predominantly due to the effects stemming from the global economic volatility, specifically the slowdown in China’s economic growth and the uncertain future of the US economy.

“Singaporean small business confidence in Singapore’s economy in 2014 has fallen dramatically from previous survey results. This possibly reflects the stronger international trade focus of Singapore and therefore business confidence is more exposed than others in the survey to global issues,” the survey reported.

The findings were actually a “surprise” according to the report, considering the recent optimistic forecasts for Singapore’s economy for 2014.

“The key items shaping Singapore’s small business environment in 2013 have been increased costs and competition. The main business priorities for Singaporean businesses in 2013 were revenue growth, customer retention  and new customer marketing, while staffing and rental costs were the most likely to have had a detrimental impact,” the report said.

The survey also called for businesses to develop their business management practices, such as cost control and improving working capital, while still focusing on customer retention and investing in innovation in order to sufficiently address these priorities.

Commenting on the overall results, the report stated for the first time in the survey’s history, small businesses in Australia and New Zealand have displayed stronger levels of confidence, causing “the centre of small business confidence in the region to move somewhat south from Southeast Asia”.

Confidence levels in Hong Kong and Malaysia’s economies were also “significantly down”, while Indonesia was identified to be on par with Singapore.

In total, 2,105 respondents participated in the survey, including 515 participants from Australia, 314 participants from Hong Kong, 349 participants from Indonesia, 310 participants from Malaysia, and 307 participants from New Zealand.

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