National Business Survey 2019/2020 New Roads Ahead: Transformation and Internationalisation of Singapore Businesses

These findings summarise the National Business Survey 2019/2020 conducted by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). Into its 12th edition, this annual survey was carried out from 26 August to 25 October 2019.

Business Sentiments

Current business sentiments uncertain as challenges loom on the horizon

Sentiments towards the Singapore economy continue to decline, with almost half of all businesses anticipating 2020 to be a more challenging year than 2019.

Dissatisfaction with the global business climate has risen by 11% from 2018 to 2019. More local businesses are optimistic about the business climate in the ASEAN region, but as in 2018, most remain neutral.

Implications of events on businesses

Rising business and wage costs are top worries for Singapore companies. Globally, US-China trade tensions and China’s economic slowdown are adding to business unease.

Businesses are optimistic about getting positive returns from digital/e-commerce transformation, and foresee sustainability as a new growth opportunity.

Business Transformation

An overwhelming majority of Singapore businesses believe transformation is critical to stay relevant in today’s environment.

Key Business Challenge: Manpower Issues

Of the multiple challenges Singapore businesses face, manpower costs have emerged as the top issue.

The top challenge is manpower costs, as businesses face greater competition and slower revenue growth.

To manage the issue, companies are investing more in the training of existing staff to learn new skills.

Key Business Priorities: Revenues, Costs and Cashflow

Companies are reverting to the basic principles of business: Growing revenues, Reducing costs and Sustaining cash flow.


Despite uncertainties over the global business climate, businesses are increasing their presence overseas.

Increased demand for their products/services, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and low-cost labour are the top three reasons why businesses expanded their presence overseas. Those who reduced their presence overseas, however, point to lower demand, stronger competition and US-China trade tensions.

Budget 2020: Business Expectations

Tax reduction/rebates top the wish list, but businesses are also keen to see support in other areas.

About the National Business Survey 2019/2020 Survey

Survey conducted by

Strategy & Development Division, Research & Publishing

Singapore Business Federation

If you require any clarifications, kindly contact research@sbf.org.sg

In collaboration with Blackbox Research