Margaret Hanson-Muse, Regional Senior Commercial Officer, ASEAN U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Singapore
Leading an official visit to Singapore from July 14 to 17 on behalf of the United Stated Department of Commerce, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Arun Kumar emphasized opportunities for U.S. companies in Singapore and the global marketplace, focusing on the new and innovative Smart Cities Initiative. Kumar led a Water Infrastructure Business Development mission of nine U.S. companies to Singapore.
At an event co-hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the US-ASEAN Business Council, Kumar launched the Smart Cities, Regions, and Communities: Export Opportunities guide that will assist U.S. companies in competing for and winning business opportunities in the emerging Smart Cities space. A Smart City is one that leverages technology and data to become more energy efficient, clean, and green, while addressing citizen engagement, governance, and critical needs in education and healthcare. Kumar was joined at the event by Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas.
The new guide is an outcome of President Obama’s Smart Cities Initiative launched last year to leverage new resources and investment for the promotion of sustainable growth in communities throughout the United States while advancing U.S. business opportunities at home and abroad.
Focusing on U.S. export opportunities and citing a White House fact sheet, Kumar stated that “54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and continued population growth and urbanization will add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. The associated climate and resource challenges demand innovative approaches. Products and services associated with the Smart Cities markets present significant opportunities for U.S. companies, since nearly 90 percent of this increase will occur in Africa and Asia.”
Showcasing Innovative “Smart” Technologies, a visit to Accenture
In recognizing Singapore as one of the world leaders in the development of Smart Cities technologies, Kumar visited the new Accenture Internet of Things (IoT) center to explore what innovation can mean for Smart Cities. He was escorted by Dwight Hutchins, Managing Director Accenture Strategy Products, Asia Pacific and Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce of Singapore.
“A visitor to this Center is indelibly impressed by the power of digital technology and how it can be used to gain a competitive advantage” Kumar said. “Cities, like businesses, are also seeking ways to harness digital technology as a more efficient means of providing necessary services to their citizens. Singapore’s enduring commitment to innovation and to becoming a Smart Nation makes it an excellent choice to host such a center. This center is designed to help customers, including Cities, to capitalize on these new technologies to pursue long-term growth.”
The center seeks to help companies in sectors like consumer goods, agriculture, forestry, metals, mining, oil and gas, chemicals, and utilities to capitalize on innovation and new digital services and business models. It also focuses on intelligent connected devices and machines that comprise the Industrial Internet of Things. Centers such as this will be important catalysts for innovation and adoption of Smart Cities technologies.
U.S. businesses are well positioned to assist in Singapore’s Smart Cities development through technologies and services in the energy, environment, infrastructure, healthcare, and information technology sectors. As part of its Smart Nation program launched in 2014, Singapore has been monitoring and promoting urban sustainability and environmental cleanliness, increasing the potential for new and expanded U.S.-Singapore partnerships.
U.S. companies regard Singapore as an excellent place to do business. Since 2003, the World Bank Group has ranked Singapore first in the world in the ease of doing business. Moreover, bilateral trade between the United States and Singapore reached US$46.7 billion last year; a growth that has been enhanced thanks to the success of our bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Since the U.S.-Singapore FTA came into force in 2004, U.S exports to Singapore have increased by 48 percent. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes 12 countries, including the U.S. and Singapore, will be the next chapter in our strong commercial relationship.
The Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative will invest more than $160 million in federal research funding and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local U.S. communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions.
For more information on export opportunities in Singapore, visit the U.S. Commercial Service in Singapore at http://www.export.gov/Singapore.